All five party leaders running outside of Quebec in the upcoming 2019 federal election. (The Canadian Press photos)

All five party leaders running outside of Quebec in the upcoming 2019 federal election. (The Canadian Press photos)

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

With nearly a million people across Canada pouring into the streets to call for climate action in recent weeks, the environment has quickly become a top priority for federal party leaders.

If elected, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are promising a series of legally binding environmental regulations to bring in net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. They’re also pledging to install 5,000 electric-vehicle charging stations, plant two billion trees over 10 years, raise the price of carbon up to $50 per tonne by 2022, and ban single-use plastics. It will also start a $5-billion clean power fund to support the “electrification” of industries like mining and forestry.

Looking far into the future, the party says it will put any money generated by the sale or construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion towards a transition to clean energy. Construction has yet to begin.

Releasing their platform late in the campaign on Friday, Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives have pledged to scrap the carbon tax, and instead bring in standards for major emitters. Companies will be required to invest “a set amount” for every excess tonne of greenhouse gas they emit, to go toward research for emissions reduction in their industry.

The party has also promised to create tax credits on public transit and green home improvements, end the crude oil shipping ban on B.C.’s north coast, build the Trans Mountain pipeline, and stop cities from dumping raw sewage into Canadian waters.

Jagmeet Singh’s NDP is vowing to reduce emissions by 450,000 megatonnes by 2030 and continue carbon pricing, while switching all public transit to electric power by 2030, eliminating single-use plastics, and investing $40 million in coastline protection.

Singh has spoken out against the Trans Mountain expansion, but has not committed to stopping it.

Elizabeth May’s Greens, who have long made the environment the cornerstone of their platforms, vow to cut carbon emissions to 60 per cent by 2030 and hit net-zero by 2050, continue carbon pricing, and cancel the Trans Mountain expansion.

They also pledge to plant 10 billion trees by 2050, bring in a national strategy for safe drinking water, and ban single-use plastics by 2022.

The People’s Party of Canada claims there is “no scientific consensus” on human-caused climate change. The party says it will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and abolish the carbon tax and subsidies for green technologies.

Kai Chan, a University of B.C professor at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, said the in-depth environmental plans are a testament to climate strikes worldwide.

“The tone is changing,” Chan told Black Press Media by phone, pointing to polls that suggest climate change is the top issue for nearly one-quarter of voters, even above jobs.

The Trudeau government’s $4.5-billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline was widely criticized when it 3was announced in May 2018. However, the polls suggest pro-climate action voters may still choose Trudeau because they see no viable alternative, he said.

READ MORE: Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

READ MORE: Advance voter turnout up 25% for first two days: Elections Canada

The Liberals and the Conservatives are nearly tied in the polls as of Oct. 15, with the NDP trailing nearly 15 percentage points, barely ahead of the Greens.

Those numbers suggest the purchase seems to have “stopped the hemorrhaging” of the party’s right-leaning supporters to the Conservatives, Chain said, while convincing voters in the middle that the party can protect the environment and the economy at the same time.

“I think it was a pretty effective ploy to keep pushing the climate pricing strategy while also spending billions of dollars purchasing a pipeline.”

David Tindall, a sociology professor at UBC, said the Liberals have been playing “a bit of a fear card” on the environmental front.

“They’re saying if you don’t vote Liberal, the alternative is going to be the Conservatives, and they’re going to go back the other direction,” Tindall said.

READ MORE: B.C. teen creates app to help voters know the issues ahead of Election Day

The previous Conservative governments, under Stephen Harper, was criticized for reducing greenhouse gas emission targets, withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol, and “muzzling” scientists who publicly opposed its policies.

Voters will elect a Liberal minority government on Oct. 21, Tindall predicted, likely propped up by the NDP and the Greens, who could pressure Trudeau to bring in more climate-friendly policies.

READ MORE: Trudeau targeted in English leaders’ debate

The next story in the series, coming Thursday, is on taxation and the economy.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Labour Minister Harry Bains addressing Surrey Board of Trade digital meeting Friday. (Screen shot)
Labour Minister says Surrey businesses’ resilience through pandemic ‘impressive’

‘Surrey’s effort in bending the curve has been among the best,’ Harry Bains says

Raj Singh Toor (left) with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudea after an official apology for the treatment of Komagata Maru passengers in 1914. (Contributed photo)
Request made for City of White Rock to honour Komagata Maru passengers

Raj Singh Toor confident city will rename ‘street, park or city asset’ in honour of 1914 tragedy

A memorial to Hudson Brooks grew quickly outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment following his July 2015 death at the hands of police. (File photo)
Inquest yields ‘sliver of justice’ for South Surrey’s Hudson Brooks: brother

Beau Brooks says he’s not optimistic call for increased RCMP training will bear fruit

Cloverdale robbery suspect. (Surrey RCMP photo)
Man charged in relation to four separate robberies in Cloverdale

Jake Eric Henderson allegedly committed four gas station robberies in January

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Most Read