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How are the federal parties addressing climate change?

Last Updated Oct 15, 2019 at 9:00 pm EST

With extreme weather becoming more commonplace every year and a recent report revealing Canada is warming twice as fast as other countries, climate change has emerged as an urgent issue in the upcoming federal election.

All four major parties have included climate change initiatives in their platforms to tackle the problem with a combination of taxes, emissions control, research and funding.

Green Party

The Green Party’s platform includes initiatives that aim to “guide all sectors of Canadian society in transitioning to the vibrant, carbon-free economy of the 21st century.”

They have outlined the following plans:

Reducing emissions

  •  Cut climate-changing emissions by 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, achieve net-zero in 2050 and set interim five-year targets to do so, starting in 2025.
    Steps to achieve this include:
    –  Creating a cross-party cabinet committee on climate change.
    –  Set legal emissions limits for industries that decline over time, with penalties for exceeding those limits.
    –  Create a revenue-neutral carbon fee that is returned to Canadians as a dividend.

Increasing renewable energy

  • No new pipelines, oil, coal or gas drilling will be approved.
  • Phase out existing oil and gas production operations.
  • Ban fracking.
  • Cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline.
  • Ramp up renewable electricity so that by 2030, 100 per cent of Canada’s electricity comes from renewable sources, including for remote communities that rely on diesel.
  • Create a national electrical grid strategy and make connections between provinces. This will be paid for by funds currently allocated to Trans Mountain purchase.
  • Work with provinces to use old oil and gas wells for geothermal power.

Buildings and transportation

  • Retrofit all buildings with renewable energy, financed through direct grants, zero-interest loans and repayments based on energy and cost savings.
  • Change the national building code to meet zero emissions by 2030 for new builds.
  • Develop a Green Freight Transport program to revamp rail and shipping rules and cut emissions.
  • Upgrade Canada Post’s fleet to electric vehicles and provide electric-vehicle charging stations in its parking lots.
  • Ban the sale of cars with combustion engines by 2030.
  • No federal sales tax for new and used electric and zero-emission vehicles.
  • Provide more charging stations for electric vehicles including all parking lots at federal facilities.
  • Reduce emissions in all transportation through the use of sustainably produced biofuels.
  • Require all passenger ferries to convert to electric or hybrid systems by 2030.
  • Lead an international effort to get shipping and avaition under the Paris Climate agreement and introduce an international tax on these activities to fund the Global Climate Fund.


Agriculture and ecology

  • Implement national standards for agriculture to reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizer which will reduce erosion and rebuild soils to retain carbon.
  • Transition away from industrial livestock production.
  • Invest in climate-proofing essential infrastructure, prioritizing upgrades to drinking water and waste water systems to protect against flooding, droughts and contamination with funds from the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
  • Launch a national program to restore natural buffer zones along waterways through tree-planting and soil re-building using the Green Infrastructure Fund.
  • Implement forest management measures including massive tree planting and creating fire breaks to adapt to climate change.


Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says his government has so far “done more to protect our environment than any government in Canada’s history,” adding that there is still more to achieve.

“We have more to do, and we will. A re-elected Liberal government will go even further to protect our environment and fight climate change,” he said at the University of Mississauga during his campaign launch event. “Under our leadership, Canada will hit net-zero emissions by the year 2050. It’s an ambitious target, but I know we can get there, and in the process, we’ll become world leaders in clean technology.”

Net-zero emissions by 2050

  • Introduce binding five-year milestones.
  • Appoint a group of scientists and experts to advise how to achieve the goal.
  • Exceed Canada’s 2030 emissions goal through new carbon-reducing measures.
  • Ensure energy workers are taken care of through a Just Transition Act.

In addition, the Liberals have also outlined the following measures to fight climate change in their platform:

Disaster response, conservation and other measures

  • Continue putting a price on pollution with the carbon tax on greenhouse gas-emitting fuels.
  • Plant two billion trees over 10 years — part of $3-billion conservation plan.
  • Help homeowners at high risk of flooding through the National Flood Insurance program.
  • Complete all flood maps in Canada.
  • Create a national action plan for relocating people on floodplains.
  • Introduce an Employment Insurance Disaster Assistance Benefit starting in 2021 for when people have to stop working temporarily to protect their homes or to relocate to safety.
  • Provide another $1-billion fund for disaster mitigation and adaptation for communities, in addition to the existing $2-billion fund.
  • Give companies that develop and manufacture zero-emissions technology a tax break and cut their rate by half.
  • Help farmers develop biofuels.
  • Strengthen emissions rules.
  • Use an estimated $500-million a year from the TMX pipeline revenue, once complete, toward climate policies.


Energy efficient homes and buildings

  • Help homeowners retrofit homes to be more resilient and energy efficient.
  • Give homeowners and landlords an energy audit.
  • Give homeowners up to a $40,000 interest-free loan for retrofitting homes and apartments.
  • Give home buyers $5000 toward the purchase of a certified zero-emissions home.
  • Provide $100-million in skills training to ensure there are enough workers to perform retrofitting and auditing.
  • Make Energy Star certification mandatory starting in 2022.
  • Kick start private capital funds for retrofitting office towers.

Vehicles and transit

  • Expand the incentive for buying green cars so there’s a 10 per cent rebate on used zero-emission cars up to $2000.
  • Install 5000 energy charging stations on the TransCanada Highway.
  • Put into place a rule that allows federal transit funds to be used only to buy zero-emission bus and rail systems.
  • Help school boards buy 5000 green buses in next five years.
  • Create a $5-billion Clean Power Fund for industries to switch to electric power sources.
  • Help transition northern communities off diesel power.
  • Help shipping convert to quieter, non-oil or diesel vessels.

Protecting the environment

  • Protect 25 per cent of Canada’s land and 25 per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2025; 30 per cent by 2030.
  • Ban single-use plastics and work with industries to be responsible for recycling what they sell.
  • Strengthen Canada’s Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Create a new Canada Water Agency to keep water clean and well-managed


The Conservatives are opposed to the Liberal government’s carbon tax which leader Andrew Scheer says “is making everyday essentials more expensive for Canadian families.”

They are proposing the following climate change measures:

Funding and taxes

  • Cancel the carbon tax.
  • Introduce a Green Public Transit Tax Credit.
  • Set emissions standards for major emitters.
  • Encourage green technology development through tax credits.
  • Provide $250-million to start a Green Technology and Innovation Fund.
  • Launch a Green Capital Accelerator.


Infrastructure and preservation

  • Consider climate adaptation when funding infrastructure.
  • Invest in wildfire technology.
  • Combat urban air pollution.
  • Complete the Canadian Wetland inventory.
  • Assess natural habitats that must be preserved.
  • End raw sewage dumps from cities.
  • Reinstate Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund.
  • Establish a green building code for updating homes and institutions.
  • Create an online green innovation hub.

Export resources

  • Increase exports of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) to coal-burning countries.
  • Build LNG export infrastructure in Vancouver.
  • Promote natural resources as a clean alternative to other countries.
  • Expand Export Development Canada to help export green tech.


Other measures

  • Force companies that exceed emissions standards to invest in green technology.
  • Ban exports of plastic waste to non-recyclers.
  • Harmonize plastic recycling regulations.



NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party will focus on ending fossil fuel subsidies and investing in clean, renewable energy.

The party has included the following plans in their climate change strategy:

Legislation and accountability

  • Declare a climate emergency and put greenhouse gas reductions targets into legislation.
  • Create a Climate Accountability Office to audit progress toward climate goals.
  • Continue carbon pricing, including rebates to households.
  • Eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and redirect funds to low carbon initiatives.

Energy efficient homes and buildings

  • Change federal procurement to prioritize green companies.
  • Ensure that federal buildings use renewable energy.
  • Implement building retrofits in all sectors with a target of retrofitting all housing stock nationwide by 2050.
  • Provide low interest loans to pay for home upgrades to renewable technologies, repayable through energy savings.
  • Improve the National Building Code and ensure that by 2030, every new building in the country is net-zero energy ready.
  • Interconnect power grids to make it easier to send clean electricity across the country.


Vehicles and transit

  • Channel federal transit funding toward low carbon transit projects like zero emissions buses and electric trains.
  • Switch federal vehicle fleets to electric vehicles by 2025; transit and other municipal fleets by 2030.
  • Create a centre of excellence for research and development of zero-emissions vehicles (ZEV).
  • Support Canadian auto manufacturers to produce more ZEVs, aiming toward all new car sales being ZEVs by 2040.
  • No federal sales tax on ZEVs up to $150,000 per family for vehicles made in Canada.
  • Expand charging networks for ZEVs across Canada and help cover the cost of home chargers for homeowners.
  • Reduce emissions from shipping and fishing.

Increasing renewable energy

  • Establish a Canadian Climate Bank to boost investment in renewable energy and technologies across the country.
  • Target powering the country with net carbon-free electricity by 2030 and move to 100 per cent non-emitting electricity by 2050.
  • Support investments in local, community-owned and operated clean energy projects.
  • Work with Indigenous and northern communities to reduce dependency on diesel.


Protecting the environment

  • Protect 30 per cent of Canada’s land, freshwater and oceans by 2030.
  • Establish an Environmental Bill of Rights to guarantee clean water, land and air.
  • Strengthen the Canadian Environment Protection Act to include protections against toxic substances in everyday products.
  • Ban single-use plastics across the country and put the onus on plastic producing companies to deal with the waste.
  • Help municipalities improve waste management and recycling programs.
  • Develop a system of urban national parks with other levels of government.
  • Implement a national strategy to protect Canadian waterways under international agreements.

Agriculture and ecology

  • Develop a national food waste strategy to reduce food waste in Canada.
  • Partner with farmers to support biodiversity and protect pollinator health.
  • Preserve ocean biodiversity by expanding marine protected areas.
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