Elxn climate platforms: a guide to the guides

With climate change such a burning 🔥 issue this election, many non-profit, academic and journalistic sources have put together comparisons of the parties’ climate change platforms. 

To help you use all these resources effectively, we thought we’d throw some of them together to see (a) what the shared takeaways were, and (b) what the differences were.

Data potluck time. 🤓 🎉

In addition to Gen Squeeze’s own climate platform scores and comparisons, here are some others on our radar:

  • This cool report card in Maclean’s magazine by two top experts
  • This cool analysis by CBC and research firm Navius 
  • These cool analyses of the Conservative platform by prominent climate policy experts Mark Jaccard and Dave Sawyer
  • A hard-hitting report by environmental group Stand.earth

Shared Takeaways 

Here are three consistent takeaways from the analyses we’ve seen.

  1. The Green platform is consistently ranked as being the most ambitious plan.

    • It gets an A+ for ambition in the Maclean’s assessment
    • The CBC Navius modelling shows Green policies as resulting in the deepest emissions cuts by 2030.
    • The Stand.earth report highlights the Greens as having the most ambitious targets  
    • The Green Party also comes out with top marks in the Gen Squeeze assessment, both because their platform is the most ambitious and because it is comprehensive

  2. The Liberal platform is consistently ranked as being the most detailed plan.

    • It gets an A for feasibility in the Maclean’s assessment (on feasibility the Conservatives get an F, the Greens a C-, and the NDP a D)
    • The Liberal platform made up ground in Gen Squeeze’s assessment due to the level of detail and proven feasibility of many of the proposed policies (along with the Green Party, the Liberal platform also gets top marks). 
    • The Stand.earth report notes that “What’s in the [Liberal] plan contains enough details to get a pretty good idea about if and how it will work.” 

      This isn’t a surprise because an incumbent party is usually in the best position to give the most detail, having actually been in government during the past term. 

  3. The Conservative platform is consistently ranked as being the weakest in its ability to reduce emissions. 

    • Both Dave Sawyer’s and Mark Jaccard’s analysis show an increase in emissions from the Conservative plan
    • Gen Squeeze’s analysis also shows the Conservative platform moving Canada backwards by assigning a negative score. 
    • The CBC Navius modelling interestingly shows the Conservative platform as reducing emissions (instead of increasing them) but nonetheless pegs this platform as the weakest in terms of reducing emissions. 
    • The Stand.earth report gives the Conservative platform a đź’© icon (so that’s pretty clear), and states that it’s “better than nothing, but not by much.” 


There are a couple of big differences to point out: 

  1. How each analysis treats ambition vs. level of detail (a.k.a. feasibility).

    This is probably why the Maclean’s analysis provides a separate score for ambition and feasibility, to let you decide which is most important to you. And this why when you’re comparing the NDP vs. the Liberals, for example, different methods might put one or the other ahead in terms of climate policy (the NDP’s plan contains slightly more ambitious targets, but the Liberal plan contains more detail).

    For what it’s worth, Gen Squeeze’s method rolls both ambition and level of detail together into our assessment of platforms against 24 key criteria.

  2. How each analysis treats contentious sub-issues like pipelines. 

    For many voters, the Trans Mountain Pipeline and tanker project (TMX) has become a litmus test on climate policy (legit), but experts don't always agree on the relative importance of that one project to the national or global fight against climate change, especially as considered in combination with other critical policies (also legit). 

    The Stand.earth report, for example, features positions on fossil fuel projects prominently. Whereas with methods like the CBC Navius modelling it's not clear how the party's positions on TMX do or don't factor in. 

    For what it's worth, Gen Squeeze's method rolls positions on TMX, oil import bans, energy corridors and preferencing domestic upgrading and refining into our criteria to "end fossil fuel subsidies" (because all of those positions result in big subsidies to oil and gas). 

Where does that leave you?

We hope that helps make sense of the many cool climate platform comparisons out there in this last week before the polls close! 

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