October 15, 2015

As the election nears, each of the main parties have announced additional details about their stances on energy, the environment and climate change. In order to help you contrast and compare how each party stands on some of the core issues, we have summarized their stated positions on carbon pricing; energy mix and the role of pipelines; environmental assessments, review and consultation; and clean tech research and investment.

Carbon pricing

The Conservatives would continue to take a sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reducing carbon emissions, which Stephen Harper argues is on par with regulations set by Washington. However, the current Conservative administration has yet to release long-awaited regulations for the oil and gas sector. They plan to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, and have submitted this ‘intended nationally determined contribution’ to the UN process for Paris.

The Liberals have announced plans to revisit national emissions-reduction targets, while giving provinces the flexibility to implement their own carbon pricing policies to meet these targets. Justin Trudeau has also committed to holding a First Ministers meeting within 90 days of attending the UN Climate Change Conference in December, but has not signaled whether or not a Liberal government would seek to change the current 2030 reduction target.

The NDP are proposing a revenue-neutral, federal cap and trade program. Tom Mulcair recently departed from a more centralized and prescriptive approach, announcing that his plan would allow provinces to opt out of the program if they meet or exceed his targets.

The Green Party is proposing a fee-and-dividend system. They also propose increasing Canada’s emission reduction goals, with the overarching goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2100, and reducing 85% of 1990 levels by 2050. The Green party will work with other countries to achieve post-Kyoto Treaty Goals, and aims to establish an Adaptation Fund for Canada.

Energy mix and role of pipelines

The Conservatives support Northern Gateway, Energy East, and Keystone XL pipeline projects. They have struggled to move beyond ‘pipeline politics’ to a more balanced discussion of Canada’s diverse energy production opportunities.

Both the Liberals and NDP oppose Northern Gateway, both largely due to environmental risks. However, whereas Trudeau supports Energy East and Keystone XL, Mulcair has become increasingly opposed to both projects. Mulcair initially supported Energy East, but now says it needs a more stringent review process. At the end of September, Mulcair officially spoke out against Keystone XL for largely economic reasons. The Green Party opposes all current pipeline plans.

The Liberals, NDP, and Green Party propose cutting inefficient subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, in line with the 2009 G20 commitment. The NDP have proposed halting nuclear expansion and upgrading safety and security at current facilities. The Green Party proposes phasing out existing nuclear power, putting a moratorium on horizontal fracking, and halting the construction of any new coal-fired electrical generation plants. The Green Party also propose creating subsidies for renewable energy generation to be matched by provinces and territories.

Environmental assessments, review and consultation

The Liberals, NDP, and Green Party pledge to bring in stronger environmental regulations and to overhaul the environmental assessment and review regime.

The Liberals have committed to more meaningful consultation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit. They also plan to increase spending in national parks, and to create a new Chief Science Officer to ensure government science is made publicly available and considered in government decisions.

The NDP announced at the end of September that they will create a new parliamentary office to provide solid scientific advice and analysis to politicians, and to put scientific evidence at the core of the fight against climate change.

The Green Party has proposed strengthening the CEPA (Canadian Environmental Protection Act) to increase coverage, to rebuild scientific capacity in key departments and to increase funding. They also propose re-establishing the Science Advisor to the Prime Minister and creating a new Parliamentary Science Advisor role.

Clean tech research and investment

The Conservative party would continue to support Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) and the Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Credit.

The NDP platform also includes tax credits, with a proposal to bring in an Innovation Tax Credit. The NDP outlined plans to redirect $1 billion a year from fossil fuel subsidies to the clean energy sector, as well as to invest in SDTC to create thousands of new jobs in clean energy.

The Liberals propose a policy geared towards creating new green jobs. They plan to 1) develop a North American clean energy and environmental agreement with the US and Mexico, 2) re-establish funding to the Experimental Lakes Area, and 3) invest $200 million annually to support research and development in clean tech in the forestry, energy and agricultural sectors, and $100 million to support clean tech companies including electricity storage technologies. The Liberals plan to create a Canada Green Investment Bond to support large and community scale renewable energy generation.

The Green Party proposes accelerating the implementation of green infrastructure to ensure the majority of Canada’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2025. They propose tax incentives for electricity storage, and greater funding for research and development overall. They also propose to re-establish funding to the Experimental Lakes Area.

Election day is less than a week away…

The outcome of this month’s federal election has the potential to significantly shift the environmental and climate change policy landscape in Canada. Make sure you have a say in our future: vote on October 19th.

Ingrid Hoffmann –  Policy Analyst (ihoffmann@delphi.ca)
Jessica Butts – Consultant, Policy Lead (jbutts@delphi.ca)
Alex Carr – Senior Associate (acarr@delphi.ca)