A comparison between the federal parties’ climate policies

Less than three weeks remain until the 2011 Canadian federal election. Although climate change is an important issue to many Canadians, it has received only a passing reference in the federal leaders debate. Trying to discern where parties stand on this issue has not been easy. Carbon Talks researcher, Nils Westling waded through party platforms and election announcements to provide this quick overview of how the Conservatives, the Liberals, the New Democrats, the Greens and the Bloc Québecois propose to address climate change.

The Conservative Party of Canada

The Conservatives have been quiet on climate change. They mention investments in clean energy and their contributions to getting the Copenhagen Accord in place in December 2009 as their main achievements. If elected they promise to invest in clean energy and extend the ECOenergy Home Retrofits Program by one year. The platform can be downloaded here.

The Liberal Party of Canada

The Liberals have an approach to environmental policies that separates them from the Conservatives. They do not present environmental policy as separate from economic policy, instead they frame working for a clean environment as a question of preparing Canadian industry for the economy of the future. With governmental support, such as tax incentives, the Liberals hope that Canada will be a world leader in the emerging clean resources industry. They promise to give $1 billion to renewable energy development and to introduce a Green Renovation Tax Credit with a goal of retrofitting over 1 million homes by 2017. They propose introducing a cap-and-trade system, a policy measure that sets an upper limit to carbon emissions and make Canadian polluters trade emission permits. The platform can be downloaded here.

Canada’s New Democratic Party

Like the Liberals the NDP also proposes the introduction of a cap-and-trade system in Canada. Overall, the environmental section of NDP’s platform is quite similar to that of the Liberals. The two parties both propose a goal of 80 percent emission reduction by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. However, the NDP takes this one step further by introducing this goal into Canadian legislation via the Climate Change Accountability Act. The NDP promises to cut subsidies to non-renewable energy and transfer funds to investments in cleaner energy production. Public transportation is an important part of their environmental policy and they want to instate a National Public Transit Strategy for maintenance and expansion of public transit. The platform can be downloaded here.

 The Green Party of Canada

Just like the other two federal opposition parties, the Greens propose carbon pricing as a way to reduce emissions. In their document Vision Green they express being open to cap-and-trade as well as a carbon tax. They are also clear about cutting subsidies to nuclear and fossil fuels. One thing that separates the Greens from the other political parties is that they express skepticism to the notion of endless growth. Their platform can be downloaded here.

The Bloc Québécois

 The Bloc proposes a more territorial approach to climate policy, that advances Quebec as an autonomous actor in international negotiations on climate change. Like the other opposition parties the Bloc advocate for investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency and they want to introduce a cap-and-trade system to promote emission reductions. They propose elimination of subsidies to oil- and gas companies and an ambitious goal of reducing the use of oil in Quebec 50% within ten years. One of the strategies for reducing oil consumption is the support for electric cars, which none of the other parties mention in their platforms. They also want to see carbon labelling on products to enable consumers to make informed purchasing choices. Their platform can be downloaded here.

At Carbon Talks we believe that Canada’s global competitiveness depends on transitioning to a low-carbon economy. There is a strong role for the federal government to play in developing a national climate policy. We encourage you to probe candidates for their views on climate change and encourage parties to develop policies which help Canada mitigate and adapt to climate change.


About Carbon Talks

Shauna Sylvester is the Executive Director of Carbon Talks and a Fellow at the SFU Centre for Dialogue. View all posts by Carbon Talks

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