Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday October 11, 2019
Liberal climate plan offers the most hope
The critics who claim this federal election is devoid of big issues have got it wrong.
The challenge of fighting climate change stands out like a mountain that rises above a noisy, crowded plain.
On Election Day, the opportunity is here for this country to move up that mountain as never before, just when the calls for action around the world have reached a crescendo and as scientists warn time’s running out to avert an eventual catastrophe.
Fully aware of this, the main four national parties are all offering an action plan. But while each has its merits, after weighing the pros and cons of each party’s proposals, this newspaper believes the Liberals’ strategy is the most substantial, balanced and workable.
Despite what some well-meaning ideologues insist, Canada cannot meet its carbon emission targets — far less the utopian dream of no net emissions — overnight or in a few years. Not unless it wants to shut down its fossil-fuel-dependent economy, which no government would ever do.
The Liberals realize this and are trying to marry environmental necessity and economic reality. The policies they’ve enacted over the past four years are on track to taking Canada more than halfway toward meeting its Paris Agreement commitment. That would see this country reduce its carbon emissions in 2030 by a full third from what they were in 2005.
So far, the Liberals have imposed a carbon tax on provinces, such as Ontario, which have not put a price on carbon emissions. Implemented in April at $20 a tonne — about 4.3 cents a litre of gas at the pump — the tax will rise to $50 a tonne by 2022 and possibly more after that. If re-elected, the Liberals would also regulate the carbon content in fuels.
In sharp contrast, the Conservatives would axe the carbon tax, ignoring the fact that because most Canadians receive more in a carbon-tax rebate than they pay out, their pockets are not being picked even as they’re being encouraged to change their energy-consumption habits. The Conservatives’ approach also flies in the face of what most economists have long agreed: pricing carbon works from every perspective.
The Conservative plan to invest more in green technology and force large companies to spend more on such solutions if they fail to meet new emission standards would take Canada into unknown territory. It’s impossible to say how much emissions would fall under these initiatives or if they’d fall at all.
For their part, the New Democrats would keep the carbon tax while cancelling the rebates to millionaires. The party would also aim for a more ambitious emissions reduction — 38 per cent below 2005 levels — by 2030. Persuasive details for how this would happen, unfortunately, seem lacking.
As for the Green party’s commitment to even higher carbon taxes, more aggressive reductions in emissions and an end to the expansion of all pipelines including the Trans Mountain project, it ignores the serious economic fallout it would surely create.
The Liberals’ plan is far from perfect and, indeed, is still a work in progress. But while they’ve been criticized for buying the Trans Mountain pipeline and trying to expand it, the Liberals realize the race to stop climate change will be more like an ultra marathon than a 100-metre dash.
Canada needs to be in this for the long haul. And it must be economically healthy enough to keep running. Better than their rivals, the Liberals realize these truths and, on this issue at least, have the best plan. (Source: Hamilton Spectator Editorial)