Evaluate the climate change plan of each political party
Recent extreme weather conditions in Canada – forest fires, drought, flooding – have killed hundreds of Canadians and destroyed homes and livelihoods, making climate action a major issue in the next federal election.
Polls consistently show that a large majority of Canadians are very concerned about climate change. Political parties know this and have carbon reduction targets for 2030. What Canadians need to know is which party has a realistic, cost-effective plan to achieve a target that represents Canada’s fair share of the economy. global effort to keep global warming below 2 Â°. vs.
But first, there are four things to know:
Canada has never achieved a climate target it set for itself
Canada has never reduced its emissions, unlike many other countries including the United States (Due to the pandemic, emissions in each country decreased in 2020)
Canada is the 4th largest producer of oil and gas in the world and has one of the highest per capita emissions at 19.4 tonnes
Oil and gas production, along with transportation, is responsible for more than half of Canada’s emissions and continues to increase
Extreme heat has been blamed for hundreds of excessive deaths in western Canada, and long-standing drought conditions have exacerbated wildfires, especially in British Columbia. Pictured: A forest fire in Penticton, British Columbia (cfarish / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
THE BIG PICTURE IN EXTREME WEATHER
Canada has largely avoided the massive destruction caused by extreme weather conditions, unlike the United States where one in three Americans experienced a climate disaster this summer according to the Washington Post. A single storm, Hurricane Ida, devastated several states with damage estimated at at least US $ 95 billion (that’s almost half the amount Canada spends on health care each year). Floods in Europe this summer cost more than US $ 25 billion. There is no reason to believe that Canada is immune to these kinds of catastrophic events.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said it was a “given fact” that our carbon emissions have resulted in “an increase in the frequency and / or intensity of certain extreme weather and climate phenomena “. The IPCC has previously reported that to prevent global temperatures from rising above 1.5 Â° C, global carbon emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reached net zero by 2050.
CANADA IS NOT BEARING ITS WEIGHT
Canada’s emissions in 2019 (most recent year data available) are the same as in 2000. Twenty years of carbon reduction efforts, including the shutdown of many coal-fired power plants, have offset by increased emissions from the production and transportation of oil and gas. Canada has not done all it can to help prevent a global climate crisis.
In early 2021, an independent climate policy analysis by Navius ââResearch Inc. in Vancouver confirmed that, for the first time ever, Canada had the policies and regulations to meet the 30% reduction target. by 2030 set by the Trudeau government in 2019.
Last April, the Liberal government set a new target for Canada of 40 to 45% reduction by 2030. It will be difficult, but it is the bare minimum. The US target is 50 percent while the European Union (EU) has a legally binding target of 55 percent. The EU’s target is a reduction from 1990 emissions, while the US and Canada compare their emissions to 2005, a less difficult benchmark.
The EU and the US are investing hundreds of billions of dollars in clean energy and clean technology to reduce carbon emissions, but also to create huge jobs and an economic boom. Canada is well positioned to join the potential to create nearly 210,000 new clean technology jobs by 2030, according to a study by Clean Energy Canada. Over the same period, some 125,000 jobs will be lost in Canada’s fossil fuel sector as oil and gas needs decline.
âClean energy and clean technology are widely recognized as good economic policy,â says Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, a think tank based at Simon Fraser University.
IPCC REPORT: “RED CODE FOR HUMANITY”
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TARGETS MEAN NOTHING WITHOUT POLICIES
Knowing how important climate action is to Canadians, each party has emission reduction targets for 2030. They are: Conservatives 30%; Liberals 40 percent; NPD 50 percent; Green 60 percent. However, as Canada’s climate history shows, goals make no sense without the policies and regulations to achieve them.
Simon Fraser University energy economist Mark Jaccard used Navius ââResearch’s climate policy model to perform an independent analysis of each party’s proposed plan to achieve their goals. Jaccard has worked as an independent advisor to various governments for two decades. According to his analysis, the Liberals’ target and plan are achievable and affordable. The Conservatives’ lower target is also achievable, but Jaccard says the party has a serious credibility problem when it comes to taking action on climate change. The more ambitious targets of the NDP and the Greens would cause enormous disruption to the economy and neither has a credible plan to achieve those goals, he concludes.
Jaccard’s analysis focuses on the costs of climate action without considering the “positive impact on the economy and employment of ambitious climate spending,” says Seth Klein, former director of the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives and author of A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency. Klein’s comment in the National Observer goes on to say that Jaccard favors market-based policies and rules out the effectiveness of carbon budgeting for various sectors and other approaches found in the NPD plan.
Smith, of Clean Energy Canada, told The Weather Network that the Conservatives’ climate plan would push Canada back to a lower target and focus on supporting the continued growth of the fossil fuel sector. The NDP’s plan is similar in some ways to that of the Liberals, such as requiring all new light vehicles sold in 2035 to be electric. The NDP is more ambitious in terms of a 50% goal and having a net zero electricity grid by 2030, while the Liberals are aiming for 2035. However, the NDP plan lacks details on how they would accomplish everything. this, according to Smith.
The NDP’s lack of detail, including costs, is a problem, agrees Kathryn Harrison, a political scientist at the University of British Columbia. It also relies heavily on regulatory measures that typically take years to put in place in Canada, Harrison said in an interview.
CONSERVATIVES STILL REST ON THE RISE TO STRENGTHEN OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION
The Conservative plan reveals they are still bullish on a bigger oil and gas sector and would relaunch the Northern Gateway pipeline to ship Alberta bitumen from Kitimat, B.C., according to Harrison. This flies in the face of assessments by the IPCC and the International Energy Association that investments to develop oil and gas must stop immediately.
There is a big contrast between conservative and liberal climate plans, according to Harrison. This is evident in the Liberals’ $ 2 billion âFuture Fundâ to help fossil fuel workers and others in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador make the transition to high energy levels. clean energy jobs. This is in addition to a $ 1.7 billion investment in skills development and retraining in Budget 2021.
âIt’s a big step forward,â said Harrison. The Liberals recognize the reality that shoddy oil like Alberta bitumen will be the first to enter the global shift to clean energy, she explained.
After the election, new climate accountability legislation will publicly call for the next government if it fails to meet its targets. And there will be increasing public pressure on the next government to keep its promises given the hellish summer many Canadians have been through, Harrison added.
Thumbnail: The wetlands have dried up due to the very dry summer conditions. (Shaunl / iStock / Getty Images)