Thursday, September 19, 2019

Canada Votes: The Climate Platforms of the Four Major Federal Parties

Climate change is an important election issue in the 2019 Canadian federal election. The four major parties are in agreement about the climate crisis, but they have very different ideas about how to address it.  They agree on the scientific consensus that humans are responsible for climate change and they all share the view that we need to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, the four main parties differ on how much GHGs should be cut and how this can best be achieved.

Here is a detailed look at the climate platforms of the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Green Party.


The carbon pricing scheme they launched in 2016 is at the heart of the ruling Liberal's GHG reduction plans. They intend to continue to consult with the provinces, territories and other interest groups to fine tune their plan after 2022.

The Liberals are also working on a Clean Fuel Standard which is seeking to reduce the emissions of the Canadian oil and gas industry. They have proposed collaborative investments with the provinces and territories including in public transit and new technology. More ambitious climate policies are expected during the campaign.

After almost four years in power the Liberals are vulnerable to criticism of diluting their green agenda by supporting the fossil fuel industry.


Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer's environmental platform is a continuation of the failed climate leadership of the Harper government. Like Harper, Scheer supports fossil fuels and is resistant to any sort of carbon pricing.

If elected Scheer has promised to kill the Liberal's federal carbon tax and the planned Clean Fuel Standards. Scheer's plan consists of selling more natural gas, tax incentives and technology investments to reduce the carbon intensity of the fossil fuel industry.

Scheer is promoting carbon capture which failed under the leadership of his predecessor. The Conservatives are also supporting voluntary building standards and unspecified emissions standards for corporate polluters. Scheer has not revealed any sort of enforcement mechanism but the idea would be to have polluters pay into a technology fund. Energy retrofits in the form of tax incentive for home owners are also part of the party's environmental platform.


Jagmeet Singh the leader of the NDP has pledged to increase Canada's emission reduction commitments to 38 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. He would retain the Liberal's carbon pricing scheme but make some modifications. This includes eliminating rebates for millionaires and removing exemptions for industries.

Singh has indicated he would allocate $15 billion for their climate plan in their first mandate. The NDP would remove fossil fuels from the electrical grid, transportation and the building sector. They would also provide low interest loans for energy saving retrofits. Finally Singh wants to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies invest $3 billion to help fund Canada's low carbon economy.

Green Party

Elizabeth May is the leader of the Green Party and she is the only leaders of a federal party who has vowed to bring the government's full resources to bear in the fight against climate change. May would like to create a "war cabinet" which would include members from all the federal parties.

May wants to reduce GHG emissions by 60 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. She would also continue with a beefed-up version of the Liberals carbon tax.

The Greens want to end fossil fuel subsidies, and the importation of oil and gas. May would ban fracking and place a moratorium on pipeline expansion. By 2030 the Green plan would aggressively reduce emissions in building and ban fossil fuels as a source of electricity. May would also make significant changes to the transportation sectors including a mandate that all new cars sold in Canada would be electric by 2030 and combustion engine cars would be phased out altogether by 2040.

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