The Canadian flag waving in front of Parliament Hill

Summary

  • The urgency of climate issues is increasing, especially in light of the COP26 summit. Since the federal election earlier this year, each party’s plan to address climate change has been brought to the surface.
  • Each party proposed their emissions targets with the winner, Liberals, sticking to the increased target of 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030. Among these, the Conservative party suggested a disappointing lower target of 30% by 2030.
  • While the focus on climate issues was positive, many parties lacked detail about reaching their ambitious goals. Now, with the COP26 summit at the height of political discussions, we can assess if Liberal leader Justin Trudeau will follow through on his plans.
  • Many people are wondering how the summit will change the government’s plans. So far, the Liberal’s criticism remains the same as they fail to lay out concrete plans to address the oil and gas sector.

Introduction

Although the 2021 election saw Justin Trudeau, Liberal leader, re-elected, it bought the federal parties’ plans on climate issues to the surface.

Climate issues are at the forefront of political discussions worldwide, but it’s not just about saving the planet. Climate change is about health, the economy, and the future. Every policy must consider the climate—whether it be energy, transport, or health.

Although the 2021 election saw Justin Trudeau, Liberal leader, re-elected, it bought the federal parties’ plans on climate issues to the surface. Along with the delayed COP26 summit, world leaders are being held accountable for their efforts to fight global warming.

It’s clear that as previous governments have missed their climate targets, Canadians lack faith in their leadership. With this in mind, this article will explore the parties’ plans to curb emissions and reach climate goals. We will explore the feasibility of the parties’ objectives and assess how they may change as the urgency ramps up.

What Are the Parties’ Emissions Targets?

As a primary part of their climate plans, each federal party included their target for reducing emissions below 2005 levels, by 2030.

In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its sixth assessment, calling for a Code Red. Experts and citizens alike are desperate for solutions as every decision impacts the future of the planet. During recent months heatwaves have been breaking temperature records throughout the western US and Canada. Climate experts have concluded that these surges wouldn’t be possible without human-caused climate change. What’s more, records show during the wildfire season of 2017, 7 to 11 times more area was burnt due to climate change.

As the data shows the extent of this global emergency, the pressure is on for governments to provide actionable solutions. When the election was at its height, each party proposed an emissions reduction target.

Alongside 195 other countries, Canada signed the 2015 Paris Agreement to commit to cutting greenhouse gases. Their overarching aim is to reach net-zero by 2050 to control global temperature rise. As a primary part of their climate plans, each federal party included their target for reducing emissions below 2005 levels by 2030.

2030 Emission Targets

  • The Conservative Party proposed a reduction of 30% from 2005 levels
  • The Liberal Party proposed a reduction of 40-45% from 2005 levels.
  • The New Democratic Party (NDP) proposed a reduction of 50% from 2005 levels.
  • The Green Party proposed a reduction of 60% from 2005 levels.

While all main parties included plans to combat climate change, the conservative party presented a disappointing goal as it backtracked on the Paris target.

An infographic displaying some of the effects of global warming, including melting glaciers, wildfires and hurricanes.

How Do the Federal Parties Measure Up On Climate Issues?

Leading up to the election, there was a lot of pressure on the federal parties to do more for climate issues. There was a lot to consider and plan for, from transport, emissions, employment to natural disasters. In retrospect, each party had their merits, but some shone brighter than others. Now all that’s left is to see how these plans play out.

Liberal Party Climate Plans

Unfortunately, as sectors grow and fossil fuel investments continue, Canadian emissions have remained steady.

The Liberal’s emissions target was a positive start to their campaign as they raised the original 30% reduction, set out in the Paris Agreement in 2015, to 40-45% below 2005 levels. Their goal is to keep global warming limited to 1.5 degrees C. A significant part of their climate plan is to put a price on carbon. Through carbon tax, they are essentially installing a “polluter pays” strategy to raise carbon to $50 per tonne in 2022 and eventually increase it to $170 per tonne by 2030.

Liberals also say they will reduce public financing of fossil fuels, and by 2023, they will scrap subsidies to the industry. It’s worth noting that the Liberal government has previously promised to cut financing to the oil and gas sector. However, figures show the government spent $18 billion on the industry during the pandemic. Unfortunately, as sectors grow and fossil fuel investments continue, Canadian emissions have remained steady.

With their efforts to reduce emissions, the party also intends to invest in rebate programs to help more Canadians buy electric vehicles (EVs). Additionally, they will invest $700 million into the EV industry to add 50,000 charging and hydrogen stations across the nation.

Conservative Party Climate Plans

Their plans to fight climate change weren’t progressive enough to make real change.

While some people said their plans improved from the previous year, the Conservative party remains behind the times, slowing down the progress of net-zero. The Canadian government has already committed to increasing its emissions target to 40-45% by 2030. However, the Conservative party proposed going back to the previous 30% target, hindering progress toward a cleaner future. Not only would this be embarrassing for the Conservatives, but this target aligns with goals to limit global warming to 2 degrees—resulting in disastrous non-reversible implications.

The party went against carbon pricing in 2015, yet the 2021 election saw them proposing a carbon tax. They had some positive points, such as investing in new climate tech like Direct Air Capture (DAC) while financing the oil and gas industry. The party said they would invest $1 billion into EV manufacturing across Canada and allow wood and agricultural waste to be eligible for carbon credits when it came to transportation.

In all, their plans to fight climate change weren’t progressive enough to make a real difference. The Conservative party faced scrutiny because their goals lacked feasibility and ambition.

NDP Climate Plans

In a video interview, NDP spokesperson Daniel Blaikie said they “talked” about many options to reach their emissions target, but no plans were actually made.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) had ambitious plans to reduce emissions by 50% below 2005 levels but lacked an actionable plan to get there. A large part of their plan was to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and address regulations through smaller five-year targets.

On their platform, they proposed the uprise of a greener economy would lead to one million new jobs, a promising statement as employment in the fossil fuel industry will likely decline. In addition, they had the intention to make all new car sales electric by 2035.

Unfortunately, while the target of 50% seems promising and their ideology around employment is positive, they lacked any detail about how they would achieve these goals. In a video interview, NDP spokesperson Daniel Blaikie said they “talked” about many options to reach their emissions target, but no plans were actually made.

Green Party Climate Plans

In their plan, they were honest about the radical transformation our economy and infrastructure would have to go through to make significant progress.

The Green’s ambitious plans promised to reduce emissions by 60% below 2005 levels by 2030. While these are the kind of statistics we want to hear, they also have to be achievable. Their plans were honest about the radical transformation our economy and infrastructure would have to make significant progress.

In short, the party’s plan emphasized support for individuals in the fossil fuel industry. They said they would have passed a “Just Transition Act” by 2021 to help the workers in various dying industries. Moreover, they highlighted plans for early retirement, skill training, and wage insurance as they planned to create a green job for every fossil fuel job lost. Additionally, The Green party proposed a $1 billion investment into Green Venture Capital Fund for young, local companies.

Their plans were informed and ambitious, but for many, they may have seemed too far-reaching.

Read more: The New Age of Climate-Focused Venture Capital

Will the COP26 Summit Change Canada’s Climate Plans?

It is arguably the most important meeting in history as many activists, citizens, and leaders brand this as the last chance to make a real impact on global warming.

When Canada signed the Paris Agreement, they also agreed to meet every five years to assess the progress towards their targets. Due to the 2020 pandemic, the summit was delayed until November 2021. At the COP26 conference, world leaders come together to address the urgency of climate issues. It is arguably the most critical meeting in history as many activists, citizens, and leaders brand this as the last chance to make a real impact on global warming. So, how will Canada’s plans develop?

Trudeau made some commitments at the summit, including many that he outlined in the run-up to the federal election. Some of his promises included a push for global implementation of a carbon tax, making Canada’s electricity grid net-zero by 2035, and moving forward with planting two billion trees.

Final Thoughts

As federal parties went up against each other in the election earlier this year, we saw how each party prioritized climate issues. Understanding the plans to tackle climate change is essential to holding the government accountable. As Liberals won the election, Trudeau represented Canada at the COP26 summit, where he outlined a familiar plan to reduce Canada’s emissions. However, once again, the criticism is the same.

The Government of Canada must take responsibility for the growing oil and gas sector to reach its climate goals.

There is an understandable hesitancy with the Liberal party; though their target of 40% is achievable, the government has failed to meet climate targets in the past.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Will the COP26 summit change Canada’s climate plans?

After signing the Paris Agreement in 2015, world leaders agreed to meet every five years to assess the progress towards reducing climate change. At the delayed COP26 summit, Trudeau made commitments to meet its goal of net-zero by 2050. The plans included planting trees, pushing for a price on carbon and making Canada’s electricity grid net-zero by 2035. However, as one of the world’s top oil and gas industries, he still faces criticism about planning to phase it out.

 

How do the federal parties compare on climate issues?

The federal electronic brought climate plans to the surface, highlighting each party’s priorities. It was clear that Liberals’ plans were the best overall as they took a realistic approach to tackle climate change. However, they still have a long way to go to gain the trust of Canadians when it comes to taking responsibility for oil and gas.

Compared to Liberals, the Green party had informed plans to reduce emissions by 60% by 2030, but some people thought they were unrealistic and required too much change to society’s infrastructure. Additionally, Conservatives’ plans were disappointing as they backtracked on the government’s plans to reduce emissions, and the NDP proposed promising ideas with no actionable steps.

 

What are Canada’s emissions targets?

Since signing the Paris Agreement in 2015, the Government of Canada has increased their target of 30% to 40-45% by 2030. This means they will aim to reduce emissions by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030.

 

How does the Government of Canada plan to address climate issues?

The Liberal government plans to reduce the effects of climate change through clean technology, green jobs and cleaner transport. They aim to increase the feasibility of cleaner transport by investing $700 million to add 50,000 charging and hydrogen stations across Canada. The government also says they will reduce public financing of fossil fuels and scrap subsidies to the industry by 2023—but only time will tell if they follow through with it this time.

 

What challenges does Canada face concerning climate change?

While the current plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are positive, there are some fundamental limitations. The primary concern is the government’s investments in the oil and gas sector. While they promote the phasing out of coal-fired electricity, they continually fail to take responsibility for a substantial polluting industry. In 2020 alone, the government invested $18 billion into oil and gas, and so far, they are the only G7 country to increase emissions since signing the Paris agreement.

 

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