New federal election study on climate change
Lab at UBC provides comprehensive analysis of federal party climate change promises

For immediate release

Led by Dr. Paul Kershaw, the Generation Squeeze Research and Knowledge Translation Lab, located in the University of BC School of Population & Public Health, is releasing the next installment of its Federal Election Voters Guide – a new study that examines the climate change promises made by the Conservatives, Greens, Liberals and NDP.

The study investigates two questions: First, is any party doing enough to fight climate change and help Canadians to adapt to its effects? Second, which party platform aligns more with the evidence about what is required to address climate change quickly enough to hold temperature increases to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius? The new 46-page analysis digs into the strengths and weaknesses in all four party platforms to answer both questions.

Findings:

No party is proposing to do enough to address climate change

Generation Squeeze worked with experts to produce a comprehensive framework of action on climate change. This framework points to the need for action in 24 different areas. None of the party platforms proposes actions to address all 24. Canadians should remain concerned about the gap between the actions being proposed by our political leaders, and the concrete steps evidence confirms are needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Some platforms align more with the evidence than others

  • Liberal promises will advance almost 3/4 of the action items
  • NDP and Green promises will advance almost 2/3 of the action items
  • Conservative promises will advance almost 1/3 of the action items

Since we are already experiencing the extreme weather of climate change, we need all parties to perform 100% of the action items now to fight climate change as aggressively as possible. This means we still need better from all parties. There’s no time to lose.

Key areas of party convergence and divergence

The Greens, NDP and Liberals commit to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The Conservative party does not.

The Greens have the most ambitious short-term goal for reducing emissions: 60% below 2005- levels compared to 50% for the NDP and 40-45% for the Liberals. However, the Liberal platform offers the most details showing how Canada can achieve net-zero by 2050 by comparison with the other parties.

In terms of the action items, there is a lot of convergence between the parties in terms of commitments to upgrade our lives via a carbon makeover that will advance clean and renewable electricity; clean industry; zero emission homes and buildings, smart land-use and carbon draw down (eg. regenerative agriculture and carbon sequestration and storage).

The Greens and NDP explicitly commit to provide regular carbon budgets that document our national plan to “spend” our atmosphere’s remaining scarce capacity to absorb carbon as carefully as we spend our money. The Liberals allude to this idea; but don’t yet make an explicit commitment. The Conservatives are silent.

The Greens, Liberals and NDP all promise to price pollution at levels that will incentivize our economy to shift away from reliance on fossil fuels at a pace that is quick enough to achieve net- zero by 2050. The Liberals are more explicit than the other parties that they will recycle revenue from pollution pricing to reduce other taxes.

The Liberal platform aligns more than the other parties with the evidence about what is required to bake sustainability into the financial system; excite investors to invest in the green transition that our economy requires; and support businesses to adopt green technologies.

While the Conservative platform stands out for its strong support for Research & Development and the exporting of Canadian technology and expertise, Conservatives continues to resist using the market to price pollution at levels that align with what research recommends to ensure our economy transitions quickly enough to achieve net-zero by 2050.

All of the parties could do better in proposing adaptation strategies now to help Canadians fend off the harm imposed by extreme weather.

By comparison with the other parties, the Conservative party does not emphasize the principle that the transition to a green economy should not leave anyone behind. This is surprising, given that Conservatives have particularly strong political roots in regions of Canada that will need the most support to upgrade their economies to align with the requirements of net-zero by 2050.

 

The full report, including an infographic summary, can be found here. The methodology for the study can be found here, including our commitment to non-partisan analysis.

The Generation Squeeze Voter’s Guide does not point voters to one party or another, because we ultimately want all parties to design platforms that work for all generations. But we do believe many voters will benefit from having access to information on the overall strength of the various promises that parties make, relative to academic evidence about what is required to solve big problems squeezing younger generations. That’s what this analysis of climate change provides.

The platform study will be updated during the election if/when additional relevant information about party promises becomes publicly available. We welcome parties contacting the Lab to suggest refinements to our analyses in light of information that the party has made publicly available.


For media inquiries, contact:

Dr. Paul Kershaw, University of BC policy professor, and Founder, Generation Squeeze
[email protected] 604 761 4583.

Download PDF version of release.

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