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Media brief: How do the federal parties stack up on climate?

Clean Energy Canada is a climate and clean energy program within the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University. Through media briefs, we aim to provide journalists with useful factual and contextual information related to Canada’s clean energy transition. Please use this as a resource, and let us know if there are any topics that you would like to see for future media briefs. 


The Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and most recently the Greens have all released climate plans with varying approaches and levels of detail. This media brief provides an overview of the key policies, regulations, investments, and incentives being offered, including emissions targets and the effectiveness of each plan to reach them.

2030 Targets

  • The Liberal Party: reduce emissions by 40% to 45% from 2005 levels.
  • The Conservative Party: reduce emissions by 30% from 2005 levels (backtracking on our current Paris target).
  • The New Democratic Party: reduce emissions by 50% from 2005 levels.
  • The Green Party: reduce emissions by 60% from 2005 levels

Does the plan reach the target?

  • The Conservative Party’s climate plan, Securing the Environment, has been independently modelled to reach a weakened 30% target. However, the modelling indicates that it is dependent on raising the industrial carbon price to $170 a tonne by 2030, something the party has said it will only do if Canada’s trading partners (notably the U.S. and EU) do the same.
  • The Liberal Party’s December 2020 climate update, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy in combination with measures announced in Budget 2021 are projected to achieve emission reductions of 36% by 2030, an assertion verified by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. When the additional measures announced in the new climate platform are included, a “triangulation” of existing modelling done by economist Mark Jaccard suggests they could achieve the 40% target.
  • The New Democratic Party’s plan is not accompanied by modelling or enough detail to determine whether the proposed measures would lead to reductions in line with the party’s 50% target. 
  • The Green Party’s plan is also not accompanied by modelling, and we do not know whether the proposed measures would lead to reductions in line with the party’s 60% target. 

How much would the plans cost?

Simon Fraser University economist Mark Jaccard modelled the proposed climate plans to determine the impact each would have on Canada’s GDP compared to a scenario where no climate plans were implemented. He determined the following:

  • The Conservative Party’s plan would result in 23% GDP growth by 2030 (2 percentage points below a 25% baseline growth rate). 
  • The Liberal Party’s plan would result in 22.5% GDP growth by 2030 (2.5 percentage points below the 25% baseline). 
  • The New Democratic Party’s plan would result in 18.5% GDP growth by 2030 (6.5 percentage points below the 25% baseline). However, because there was insufficient information in the party’s climate plan to determine how it would meet its target, a number of assumptions were made in order to reach 50% that may not accurately reflect the NDP’s position. 
  • The Green Party’s plan would result in 17.5% GDP growth by 2030 (7.5% below the 25% baseline), although this is based on a previous version of the climate plan and does not include all the policies presented in the party’s recently released election platform.

What carbon prices are proposed?

  • The Conservative Party: beginning at $20 per tonne and increasing to a maximum of $50 per tonne by 2030.
  • The Liberal Party: increasing from $40 per tonne (current level) to $170 per tonne by 2030.
  • The New Democratic Party: increasing from $40 per tonne (current level) to $170 per tonne by 2030.
  • The Green Party: increasing by $25 per tonne each year from 2022 to 2030, reaching $250 per tonne by 2030.

Key regulations

In addition to putting a price on carbon, the parties say they would employ the following key regulations:

The Conservative Party: 

  • A zero-emission vehicle mandate requiring that 30% of new passenger vehicle sales are zero-emission by 2030.
  • Maintaining the industrial carbon price for large emitters that reaches $170 per tonne by 2030 (subject to review in 2023).
  • Turn the existing Clean Fuels Standard into a low carbon fuel standard, based on B.C.’s, to achieve a 20% reduction in carbon intensity for transport fuels.
  • Introducing a renewable natural gas mandate that requires 15% of natural gas consumption to be renewable.
  • Working with the U.S. to set a standard for charging and then adding mandatory charging stations or wiring required for chargers to the national building code.
  • Proposing minimum North American industrial emissions standards, backed up by border carbon adjustments to prevent carbon leakage and economic activity shifting to countries with lower emissions standards.

The Liberal Party 

Regulations or targets proposed or updated in the last year:

  • A revised mandatory target that all new passenger vehicles sold by 2035 be zero-emission.
  • A proposed Clean Fuel Standard that requires fossil fuel suppliers to reduce the carbon intensity of the fuel they supply.

Regulations indicated in election platform:

  • A requirement that at least 50% of all new passenger vehicle sales be zero-emission in 2030, on par with the U.S.’s new target and en route to 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035. 
  • Reaching a net-zero electricity grid by 2035 by implementing a Clean Electricity Standard.
  • Capping oil and gas sector emissions at current levels and introducing five-year targets starting in 2025 to reduce emissions in line with a net-zero 2050.
  • Requiring oil and gas companies to reduce methane emissions by at least 75% below 2012 levels by 2030.
  • Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies by 2023 and developing a plan to phase out public financing for the fossil fuel sector, including from Crown corporations.
  • Introducing a Buy Clean Strategy to prioritize the use of low-carbon building materials for public and private infrastructure projects.
  • Moving forward on applying border carbon adjustments to carbon-intensive imports in collaboration with key trading partners.

The New Democratic Party

  • Establishing multi-year national and sectoral carbon budgets as a key guiding framework to develop Canada’s path to 2030 and beyond.
  • Setting a target of net-zero electricity by 2030.
  • Requiring that 100% of all new car sales be zero-emission by 2035.
  • Electrifying transit and other municipal fleets by 2030.
  • Continue with and also look at ways to strengthen the proposed Clean Fuel Standard that requires fossil fuel suppliers to reduce the carbon intensity of the fuel they supply.
  • Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and redirecting these funds to low-carbon initiatives, while putting in place legislation to prevent future governments from reversing decisions.
  • Ensuring that provincial methane regulations are equivalent with federal regulations, and increasing the ambition of those targets in the 2025 to 2030 period.
  • Requiring the use of low-carbon, Canadian-made steel, aluminum, cement and wood products for infrastructure projects.
  • Introducing a border carbon adjustment on imports from countries without a carbon price.

The Green Party:

  • Ending the extraction of fossil fuels, including cancelling new pipeline and oil exploration projects, ending subsidies to the fossil fuel sector, and phasing out bitumen production between 2030 and 2035.
  • Enacting a detailed carbon budget reflecting Canada’s based on the 60% target. 
  • Ensuring that 100 % of Canadian electricity is produced from renewable sources by 2030.
  • Banning the sale of all internal combustion engine passenger vehicles by 2030.
  • Mandating a faster transition to renewable energy in every sector.
  • Banning the export of thermal coal. 
  • Introducing carbon border adjustments.

Investments of note

The Conservative Party: 

  • $1 billion in small modular reactors, a new nuclear technology.
  • $5 billion in carbon capture, utilization and storage technology and a tax credit to accelerate deployment.
  • $1 billion in EV manufacturing, including batteries, parts, and electric trucks.
  • Investment in electricity transmission infrastructure to support EV growth.

The Liberal Party

Investments in the last year:

  • Investments in clean industries, including $8 billion into the Net Zero Accelerator Initiative.
  • A $2.75 billion “Zero Emission Transit Fund” to electrify transit and school buses.
  • $300-million for consumer electric vehicle rebates.

Investment promises made in election platform:

  • Extending the EV consumer rebates of up to $5,000 for another three years.
  • Building 50,000 more charging stations across the country.
  • Investing $2 billion in a Futures Fund for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador to create jobs.
  • Creating a Clean Jobs Training Centre to help workers upgrade or gain new skills.
  • Working to attract near-term multi-billion-dollar investments in minerals processing and cell manufacturing.
  • Launching a Canada-U.S. Battery Alliance to help build an “integrated, world-scale battery supply chain.”
  • Doubling the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for materials on the Canadian list of critical minerals, such as those needed to manufacture batteries.

The New Democratic Party

  • Extending federal incentives for EVs, waiving the federal sales tax on EV purchases, and offering up to $15,000 per family for made-in-Canada vehicles.
  • Building out Canada’s charging infrastructure and helping cover the cost of installing a charger.
  • Providing dedicated employment support with expanded EI benefits, retraining and job placement services for workers affected by the energy transition.
  • Boosting cleantech research and manufacturing with new funding and incentives.
  • Creating a centre of excellence for the research and development of zero-emission vehicles and batteries.
  • Using funding, incentives and Buy Canadian procurement to support Canadian manufacturing in batteries and clean technologies. 

The Green Party:

  • Investing in electric vehicle charging stations and incentives for new and used EVs.
  • Investing $720 million by 2024 to develop regional rail networks, including electric high-speed rail in the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City triangle and the Calgary-Edmonton corridor.
  • Creating a permanent, dedicated federal public transit fund of $3.4 billion annually starting in 2026.
  • Increasing climate finance to $US4 billion per year to support climate mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage in developing countries.
  • Establishing a federally funded Green Venture Capital Fund of $1 billion to support viable small local green business startups.
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