A researcher from Simon Fraser University who presented at the Penticton Lakeside Resort on Thursday said the Trudeau Liberals are the “first climate sincere federal government that Canada has had.”
Dr. Rose Murphy, who specializes in developing models to evaluate government policies for reducing energy consumption and greenhouse emissions, spoke to approximately 125 people at a climate change event hosted by not-for-profit First Things First Okanagan on Oct. 3.
In the upcoming federal election, she said individuals concerned about climate change should vote for “climate sincere” politicians.
She went on to compare the election “frontrunners,” who she said were the Justin Trudeau Liberals and Andrew Scheer Conservatives.
Compared to the Trudeau Liberals’ federal backstop carbon price, which includes levying a tax of $20 on every tonne of greenhouse gas emissions starting this year, rising by $10 each year to $50 a tonne by 2022, she said the Scheer Conservatives promise free carbon pollution everywhere except B.C. and Quebec.
Compared to the Liberals’ clean fuel standard to achieve 30 million tonnes of annual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, the Conservatives have said they will “work to increase the availability and use of renewable fuels.”
“This is an example of the kind of statement you might see where you’d say, ‘How will we do that exactly?’” Murphy said.
And compared to the Liberals’ output-based pricing system designed to ensure there is a price incentive for companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, she said the Conservatives haven’t yet defined the stringency of emissions standards they would set for large industry.
The Conservatives’ climate plan, she said, includes actions that are assumed to happen without carbon pricing and mostly without regulations, and uses vague language, making policy difficult to forecast.
She found the Conservatives are “climate insincere” and predicted that if they were to come to power, greenhouse gas emissions would increase between 2020 and 2030.
“Based on those criteria, (the Trudeau Liberals) are the first climate sincere federal government that Canada has had,” she said.
She also acknowledged the Trudeau Liberals’ controversial purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and a “chipping away” on promising regulations.
“Even in British Columbia, maybe the most environmentally-forward jurisdiction of the country with this NDP-Green coalition, we’re seeing the same thing as well,” she said, adding that the coalition has put some good policies in place, but their vehicle emissions and low carbon fuel standards are weak.
“So some evidence I think of really ‘climate sincere’ governments who get worn down by all of these other pressures,” she said, noting conflicting interests that discourage join action and timelines. “I think this leaves us with a huge role for activism.”
Murphy said she didn’t go into detail about the NDP or Green Party platforms because “it is different writing a climate change plan when you know you’re not going to form government.”
After the event, South Okanagan West Kootenay NDP MP Richard Cannings told the Western News it’s not surprising that the Liberal policies are better than the Conservative ones.
“She didn’t really talk about the NDP or the Greens’ options, which I think are the real ‘climate sincere’ parties,” Cannings said.
Green Party candidate Tara Howse said she was disappointed Murphy didn’t look at all five platforms.
“It’s a little disappointing because the Green Party is the only platform that actually meets the (International Energy Conservation Code) targets,” she said.
Howse added she was “shocked” Murphy still classified the Trudeau Liberals as “climate sincere” after the purchase of the pipeline.
“In the context of doublespeak, of declaring an emergency and then purchasing a pipeline and then calling that ‘sincere climate,’ that is disappointing to me,” she said, adding that it speaks to the amount of corporate influence driving the fossil fuel industry.
“The Green Party is very explicitly saying we need to end that.”
First Things First Okanagan will be hosting an all-candidates debate on Oct. 15 at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. Residents are invited to participate in a roundtable discussion about environmental issues from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m., with the debate starting at 7 p.m.
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