2021-09-20 22:06:58 Why Climate Change Barely Registered in the Canadian Election
Why Climate Change Barely Registered in the Canadian Election
Canada is known for its cold weather, but this summer was a raging inferno in many parts of the country.
The Western provinces experienced record-breaking heat waves, which killed 569 people in British Columbia. In that province, wildfires destroyed over two million forest acres and razed a small town, while droughts devastated cattle ranchers in Manitoba.
The extreme weather heightened Canadians’ already intense interest in and concern about climate change. During the campaign, however, climate was barely mentioned.
According to analysts, this was due to the Conservative Party’s astute maneuvering.
In a plan unveiled this spring, the party’s leader, Erin O’Toole, broke a promise to never impose carbon taxes. While the Conservative version of the plan prices carbon lower than Mr. Trudeau’s plan and uses a different system for rebating the tax to individuals, the prime minister can no longer claim that the Conservatives will not tax carbon and do not have a climate plan.
“I believe the Conservative Party has put forward a more ambitious platform than in 2019, in part to take that off the table,” said Kathryn Harrison, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia.
The Conservative plan, unveiled well before the election, proposes reducing emissions by 30% below 2005 levels in nine years, Canada’s original Paris Agreement target.
However, Mr. Trudeau has since raised the country’s target for the same time period to between 40 and 45 percent. He invoked the unpopular policies of his predecessor, Stephen Harper, whose administration muzzled environmental scientists, when he said the Conservatives’ plan would set the country back in its fight against climate change.
The Green Party, which has prioritized climate change, has called for a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030.
According to Nicholas Rivers, a Canada Research Chair in Climate and Energy Policy and an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, the target is ambitious but lacks detail.
Infighting within the Green Party has caused its leader, Annamie Paul, to consider resigning. On September 7, late in the campaign, the party released its platform.
“It makes it difficult to believe they have a credible plan to get there,” said Professor Rivers. “I believe the Greens have relinquished some of their leadership on the climate issue.”