#elxn42: Where the Federal Parties Stand on Clean Energy and Climate Solutions
Author — Dan Woynillowicz Category — Carbon, Electricity, Transportation
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It’s Day 74 and we’re on the home stretch of the longest federal campaign since Sir John A. MacDonald took on Edward Blake in 1872. A lengthy writ can make it challenging to wade through the sea of commitments, so let’s look at where each of the four major parties stand on advancing clean energy and climate solutions.

Conservative Party

While the Conservatives have said they’re committed to addressing climate change and meeting Canada’s emissions reduction targets, the details are scant. Close to half of the global economy prefers carbon pricing as a tool to cut carbon pollution, yet the Tories have come out swinging against it, preferring sector-by-sector regulations.

The Tory plan is silent when it comes to investments in clean energy solutions.

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Liberal Party

Careful to recognize the leadership of those provinces that have taken action on carbon pricing, the Liberals have committed to developing a new pan-Canadian framework to address climate change. In addition to setting new emissions reductions targets, the Liberals are committing $2 billion in a Low Carbon Economy Trust to fund projects that reduce carbon pollution. Unlike the other party platforms, the Liberals aren’t explicit about their preferred system for achieving a national carbon price.

When it comes to clean energy, the Liberals commit to working with provinces to implement the Canadian Energy Strategy, including bringing more clean, renewable energy into the electricity grid. The Grits have promised to invest $100 million more per year in the growth and development of clean tech companies, and to work with the private sector to unlock venture capital.  They’re also proposing to shift subsidies from fossil fuels to “new and clean technology.”

Rounding out the Liberal platform: green bonds for community-based renewable energy projects, clean technology procurement for government, electric vehicle charging stations, electrifying the federal vehicle fleet, energy efficiency initiatives, and more opportunities for clean technology exports.

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The New Democratic Party

The NDP is all about tackling climate change through cap-and-trade, proposing a national program that will return the revenues to the provinces they’re collected from. There’s also a clause for provinces that take actions equal to the national standards: they can opt-out entirely.

The New Democrats would create Green Bonds up to $4.5 billion over four years to support clean energy, climate resilient infrastructure, commercial and industrial energy retrofits, and other sustainable development projects. They’re also committing to invest $1.5 billion over four years in “green programs,” including in local, clean energy development in northern and remote communities.

The NDP view energy efficiency and funding for climate adaptation as key to transitioning to a cleaner, greener economy. Their full plan is available here.

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The Green Party

The Greens have a lot to say when it comes to carbon pricing, clean energy, and zero-carbon transportation, so it’s worth reading the full details in their platform, but here are a few highlights:

  • Take a fee-and-dividend approach to carbon pricing, and return revenues to citizens as rebate cheques.
  • Undertake a 10-year investment program to improve the power grid and increase the supply of renewable power, and to fund research and development for electricity storage technologies.
  • Invest $180 million per year in a national solar roof program, with additional support for wind, solar, geothermal and tidal power.
  • Allocate $1 billion per year to get emerging clean energy technologies to market through Green Technology Commercialization Grants.
  • Invest in infrastructure that promotes renewable energy and a more robust east-west electricity grid.
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What Do We Need from Canada’s Next Government?

As we’ve documented in both the Global and Canadian editions of Tracking the Energy Revolution, there’s much more the federal government could be doing to ensure we can compete in the surging global clean energy economy, now valued at CAD$790 billion.

We encourage you to check out our recommendations and cross-reference them with the party platforms. In the days following the election we’ll be sharing five things Canada’s next federal government could do to kickstart innovation and boost competitiveness in the growing clean energy economy…so stay tuned!


With writing and research by Sarah Petrevan

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