In light of the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which highlights the need for ambitious action in the next 11 years to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) undertook a survey of the federal parties on climate change issues. The survey results were released on October 1, 2019.

According to Catherine Abreu, executive director of CAN-Rac, Canadian politicians must do more to address the climate crisis. “I think we’ve seen a friendly one-upmanship in recent weeks starting with the Greens and NDP who have presented ambitious plans. This put the pressure on the Liberals to come to the table and present the net zero by 2050 target.”

Abreu and her colleagues advise that any future climate plan needs to include the following criteria: get Canada back on track to meet its 2030 Paris Agreement commitments; set and legislate new, more ambitious reduction targets; eliminate fossil fuel subsidies; leave no community, group or worker behind; increase support for emission-reducing measures in other countries; begin a national conversation; and change the polarizing public conversation on the climate crisis.

This survey was presented to federal parties by CAN-Rac on behalf of its 110 member organizations, which represent a diverse range of First Nations and Canadian environmental, labour, faith, youth, health professional, international development, and social justice communities from coast-to-coast.

“Most of the federal parties seem interested in taking action. Where we see differentiation is on the question of the future of Canada’s fossil fuel industry,” explains Abreu. “We’ve heard that the parties want to work with communities on a clean economy and to create jobs with good climate policies, but these strategies are weakened when they have to face the energy industry and with ongoing pipeline development. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. We need a party that has the courage to have a real conversation.”


Survey Questions:

  • Achieving and strengthening Canada’s current emissions reduction targets to line up with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting average global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius?
  • Legislating the strengthened target for 2030, and legislating either an interim 2025 target or an annual carbon budget between 2020 and 2030?
  • Using all the tools in the climate policy tool box to reduce Canada’s emissions in all economic sectors – oil and gas, transportation, electricity, heavy industry, buildings, agriculture and waste?
  • Stop subsidizing fossil fuel production with public money?
  • Strengthen and create new careers in the green economy, while phasing out the approval of new fossil fuel infrastructure?

The Conservative Party of Canada chose not to participate in this survey but rather to send a statement:

“Climate change is real, and it is important for all nations, including Canada, to do their part. That is why we have proposed specific measures to reduce emissions in all economic sectors. For more details about these proposals, please refer to our Environment platform, which can be found at But regardless of what we do in Canada, and regardless of what targets we set for ourselves, the simple fact is that the world will not be able to keep warming below 2oC – let alone 1.5oC – without significant advancements in green technology.

No matter how much Canada reduces its own emissions, our best chance of making a real contribution to lowering global emissions is to become a serious contributor to the advancement of emissions-reducing technology. That is why our plan includes a comprehensive strategy for driving research in and adoption of Canadian green technology.

Our plan also highlights the importance of approaching this as a global fight. We cannot ignore the global consequences of action in Canada, and that is why our plan includes support for high performing Canadian companies, and takes steps to help drive global demand for the cleanest Canadian products and technology. We want to position Canada and Canadian companies as strong players in a new, cleaner global economy. We want Canada to be a leader. Taking Canada down a road that impoverishes Canadians without making a meaningful impact on global emissions is not leadership, because who will follow?

We believe that focusing on green technology and global actions can help us lower emissions while increasing efficiency and providing economic opportunity at a reasonable cost. The world is looking for efficient and affordable solutions, and finding them is the best way for Canada to make a real difference in the fight against climate change.”

Here’s an overview of what’s been promised so far in the platforms of the major federal parties with regard to climate change action:

Liberal Party of Canada
Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party are hoping to continue to build on their partnerships with provincial and territorial leaders to develop “real climate change solutions, consistent with our international obligations to protect the planet, all while growing our economy.”
The government committed over $2.6 billion to support climate action in developing countries, which is double what the previous government committed. In the past four years, that approach has delivered the biggest projected cut to Canada’s emissions ever.

The party would be committed to participating in the Paris climate conference, and within 90 days would meet to establish a panCanadian framework for combatting climate change.
In Chapter 3 of “Real Change: A New Plan for a Strong Middle Class” Trudeau outlines his promises for a re-elected Liberal government with a clean environment and a strong economy:

• Establish national emissions-reduction targets and ensure that the provinces and territories have targeted federal funding and the flexibility to design their own policies to meet these commitments, including their own carbon pricing policies.
• Create a new Low Carbon Economy Trust that will provide funding to projects that materially reduce carbon emissions under the new pan-Canadian framework. The Liberals will endow the Low Carbon Economy Trust with $2 billion.
• Protect communities from the challenges of climate change and grow the economy by making significant new investments in green infrastructure.
• Fulfill the G20 commitment and phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry over the medium-term.
• Work in partnership with the United States and Mexico to develop an ambitious North American clean energy and environmental agreement.

For further information, visit:

Conservative Party of Canada
Andrew Sheer and his Conservative party are offering a different take on climate change. The plans are outlined in “A Real Plan to Protect our Environment”, in which he promises to provide new policies that will “lower Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen environmental protections – without taking money out of Canadian’s pockets.”

The plan is based on three policy principles:
1. Green technology, not taxes.
2. A cleaner and greener natural environment.
3. Taking the fight against climate change global.

While Sheer seems to agree with Trudeau on the need to attend the Paris conference, there is disagreement on how to meet the targets. Sheer is opposed to the carbon tax. “His Carbon Tax gives big polluters a pass while punishing Canadians for driving to work and heating their homes,” says Sheer. “Canadian families and small businesses will pay 92% of Trudeau’s Carbon Tax while big polluters are only on the hook for 8%.”

For further information, visit:

New Democratic Party
Jagmeet Singh and Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) have an alternative view of climate change solutions for Canada. Singh has criticized his competitors in the race for doing too little. “It’s time to fight climate change like we actually want to win. But the Liberals are just wasting time while they let the biggest polluters off the hook and give bullions in subsidies to oil and gas companies. And while the Conservatives deny a problem even exists, families know we can’t waste any more time.”

Singh promises transition to a clean energy, carbon-free economy while investing in workers and creating jobs. He is hoping to make like more affordable for families with retrofits, electric transit and zero emission vehicles.

The details are outlined in his Climate Action plan and include the following:
• Taking leadership by developing a roadmap to reductions that includes science-based greenhouse gas reductions targets that will help stabilize the global temperature rise. Efforts will include the creation of an independent Climate Accountability Office to perform regular audits. Continued support of carbon pricing but a roll back of the breaks to big polluters. There would also be a push toward strategies such as transitioning vehicle fleets of the federal government to electric by 2025.
• Powering communities in carbon freeways by setting a target to power Canada with net carbon-free electricity by 2030 and move to 100% non-emitting electricity by 2050. To drive this progress, establish a new Canadian Climate Bank to help boost investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and low carbon technology. There would also be support for interested parties to inter-connect power grids and introduce smart grid technology and bolster energy security.
• Changing how Canadians get around by modernizing and expanding quality public transit to ensure that federal transit funding flows with an emphasis on scaling up low-carbon transit projects such as zero-emissions buses and electric trains, with the goal of electrifying transit and other municipal fleets by 2030. In addition, the development of a fare-free transit to ease commuting and lower emissions.

For further information, visit:

Green Party of Canada
Not surprisingly, Elizabeth May and her Green Party have the most ambitious plan for action on climate change. In “Mission Possible: The Green Climate Action Plan” May asserts that “the Green Party has Canada’s only comprehensive plan to avoid climate catastrophe.”
Her 20-step plan includes the following:

1. Declare a climate emergency at every level of government.
2. Establish an inner cabinet of all parties.
3. Set stringent new targets and file it as Canada’s national determined contribution to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
4. Assume leadership at the next climate change negotiation (in Chile).
5. Respect evidence and restore funding of climate research in Canada.
6. Maintain carbon pricing and achieve revenue neutrality through carbon fee and eliminate all subsidies to fossil fuels.
7. Ban fracking with no exceptions.
8. Green the grid by 2030 after removing fossil fuel generation.
9. Modernize the grid by rebuilding and revamping the east-west electricity grid to ensure that renewable energy can be transmitted from one province to another.
10. Plug in to electric vehicles, replace all internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040, and build a cross-country electric vehicle charging system.
11. Get Canada back on track by modernizing VIA Rail, expanding the service and ensuring connections to light rail and electric buses.
12. Complete a national building retrofit that allows carbon neutral buildings by 2030.
13. Turn off the tap to oil imports by 2050 – and shift all Canadian bitumen from fuel to feedstock for the petrochemical industry.
14. Switch to bio-diesel to promote the development of local, small scale bio-diesel production, primarily relying on used vegetable fat from restaurants.
15. Create new partnerships for renewables with Indigenous peoples, providing economic opportunities by ramping up renewables on their lands.
16. Call for every municipality and community organization, school and university to step up and plant trees, install solar panels, heat pumps and assist in retrofitting buildings to maximize energy efficiency.
17. Prioritize adaptation by investing significant resources in adaptation measures to protect Canadian resource sectors such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. Review all infrastructure investments for adaptation to climate change. Map flood plains, tornado corridors and other areas of natural vulnerability and adjust land use plans accordingly.
18. Change planes by cancelling the purchase of F35s and buy more water bombers to protect communities from forest fires. Cut standing dead timber to establish fire breaks and save lives.
19. Curtail the “other” GHG sources by addressing fossil fuel use that falls outside the Paris Agreement – emissions from international shipping, aviation and the military.
20. Restoring carbon sinks in a global effort to replant forests and restore the planet’s mangrove forests as quickly as possible.

For further information, visit:

Bloc Québécois
Yves-François Blanchet and the Bloc Québécois party has promised to making emissions targets legally binding, but the specific details of the targets and supporting policies have yet to be provided. In its “Le Quebec, c’est nous plan,” the Bloc says it will set emissions targets that align with Canada’s Paris commitments.

According to the Bloc’s plan, the emissions targets law would also include an accountability tool to keep the government on track and a section that would pressure the government to make its targets even more ambitious as time went on. The party opposes building pipelines or investing in fossil fuel projects, promising to cut subsidies within 100 days post-election. It proposes using money saved on subsidies to promote clean energy and also wants Quebec to have a veto over any pipeline that would run through the province.
The Bloc is in favour of a carbon tax and argues the Liberal plan doesn’t go far enough. It wants a tax of $30 per tonne on greenhouse gases in provinces where emissions per capita are higher than average. This would increase to $200 per tonne by 2030. However, the charge wouldn’t apply in “greener” provinces like Quebec.

The Bloc’s climate plan also outlines other policies, including opposition to pipelines in Quebec, an end to fossil fuel subsidies, and to renew and increase the rebate for zero emission vehicles.

For further information, visit:

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