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The Conservative climate plan is real, even if it raises a few questions

VICTORIA — Merran Smith, executive director at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the Conservative Party of Canada’s new climate plan, Secure the Environment:

“For the first time in its history, the Conservative Party of Canada has released a real climate plan—one that could keep Canada aligned with its current international climate commitment. 

“This means that, also for the first time ever, every major party in Canada is taking climate change seriously. We hope that political disagreements going forward can now focus on how we do better, rather than on doing less.

“But while the plan represents a significant step forward for the Conservative party and our national dialogue, its details do raise questions, including how it positions Canada for a net-zero 2050 and whether the party would also hit an increased climate target—something we expect will be announced during next Thursday’s global Earth Day Summit.

“We were pleasantly surprised to see the Conservative climate plan has its own version of a carbon price and acknowledges the economic efficiency of the policy. Though we would have preferred it if the Conservatives hadn’t wasted time opposing the federal carbon price in the first place.

“In terms of potential concerns, the party is not fully committing to raising the industrial carbon price beyond 2023—saying that doing so is contingent on commitments from other countries—despite the party’s modelling relying on an increased price of $170 a tonne by 2030. This adds uncertainty and could result in the plan falling short of its target.

“As for strengths, the Conservative climate plan proposes a zero-emission vehicle mandate, a proven policy requiring automakers to sell more electric vehicles in Canada. While the policy is not as ambitious as existing versions in B.C., Quebec, and California, implementing the measure federally would help ensure that Canadians across the country can buy the electric vehicles they’re looking for. It would also help Canada secure a stronger foothold in the growing economic opportunity that is building EVs and their components.

“The plan also proposes keeping the federal Clean Fuel Standard but designing it more closely in line with B.C.’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Similar to its approach to carbon pricing, the party is opting to update a key existing policy by adjusting its design and giving it a different name. The Conservatives should ensure these policy adjustments don’t slow down their implementation.

“Ultimately, the Conservative climate plan is a real step in the right direction. As for next steps, we would like to see the plan address its uncertainties, increase its ambition to align with an expected increased climate target, and have an approach for meeting and seizing the historic opportunity that is a net-zero 2050.”

KEY FACTS

  • The Conservative climate plan would:
    • Introduce a zero-emission vehicle mandate requiring that 30% of new passenger vehicle sales are zero-emission by 2030.
    • Set a carbon price starting at $20 per tonne increasing to a maximum of $50 per tonne by 2030. The proceeds would be diverted to a “personal low carbon savings account,” to be managed by a private sector consortium. Canadians must spend proceeds on products that help to reduce emissions (e.g. transit, bikes, energy efficiency upgrades, or EVs).
    • Maintain the Output-Based Pricing System for large emitters that reaches $170 per tonne by 2030, although this will be subject to review in 2023 and amended based on the ambition set by Canada’s trade partners.
    • Include a renewable natural gas mandate that requires 15% of natural gas consumption to be renewable.
    • Turn the Clean Fuel Standard into a Low Carbon Fuel standard, based on B.C.’s, which aims to achieve a 20% reduction in the carbon intensity of transport fuels.
  • Modelling suggests that the plan could achieve an emissions reduction comparable to the current plan introduced by the Liberal federal government (which, at present, commits to reducing emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030). 
  • Canada is the 10th-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.

RESOURCES

Poll | Most Canadians want Canada to be ‘world leading’ or ‘among the most ambitious’ when it comes to shifting to clean energy and clean technology

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