The Green Party 2019 Platform presents a vision for Canada in 2030 firmly based on strong, progressive social and ecological policies that will make Canada a climate leader and drive the transition to the green innovation economy of the 21st century.
“We are in a climate emergency and politics-as-usual is leading us down a path we simply cannot survive,” said Elizabeth May. “The Green Party is proposing a course change, and we are ready to take the lead.”
Shae added that the Green Party’s climate action plan, called Mission: Possible, “recognises that our house is on fire. There’s no time left for incremental actions. We must act decisively and we must act now if we are to keep the global average temperature increase to no more than 1.5 degrees C. If we fail, we risk losing our hospitable biosphere making millions of species extinct, including our own.”
What’s causing climate change?
Carbon dioxide is by far the largest contributor to climate pollution. In Canada, most of our carbon dioxide emissions (54 per cent) come from producing and burning coal, oil and natural gas. Transportation adds another 28 per cent. Industrial agriculture contributes methane from livestock and nitrous oxide from fertilizer, totaling eight per cent of climate pollution followed by non-energy heavy industries (7.5 per cent) and methane from solid waste landfills (2.5 per cent).
What’s your plan?
A Green government will pass into law a Climate Change Act requiring a 60 per cent cut in climate-changing emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, reaching net zero in 2050. Interim targets would be set at five-year intervals beginning with 2025.
To achieve this, the government of Canada must utilize every tool in the federal toolkit, including regulations, public spending, and pollution pricing.
- Establish a cross-party inner cabinet to deal with climate change to limit the destructive impact of partisan politics which has thwarted strong climate action for two decades. Its mandate would be to ensure that Canada does its part to limit global warming to a level civilization can survive, and mitigate the impacts of climate change on Canadians.
- Set legal emissions limits for industries that decline over time, with penalties for exceeding those limits.
- Maintain a broad-based, revenue-neutral carbon fee on all sources of carbon dioxide pollution. Revenues from the carbon fee would be returned to Canadians as a dividend.
What's your strategy for energy?
- Since producing and burning fossil fuels is the largest source of emissions, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and retool society to run on non-polluting, renewable energy sources. This is entirely possible, according to studies by the Stanford University researchers and the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project.
- No new pipelines, or coal, oil or gas drilling or mining, including offshore wells, will be approved. Existing oil and gas operations will continue on a declining basis, with bitumen production phased out between 2030 and 2035. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations will be banned outright due to impacts on groundwater quality, methane release and seismic activity.
- Cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline (and its $10-13 billion cost) as well as other subsidies to fossil fuel industries, totaling an additional several billion dollars a year. This money will be redirected to the Canadian Grid Strategy and renewable energy transition.
- Implement a major ramp-up of renewable electricity. By 2030, 100 per cent of Canada’s electricity will come from renewable sources. This includes getting remote and northern communities off diesel generators.
- To enable renewable electricity to flow across provincial and territorial boundaries, implement a national electrical grid strategy, including building connections between eastern Manitoba and western Ontario, and upgrading connections between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. This will be paid for with money now allocated for expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline ($1.6 billion announced in December 2018, towards an estimated $10-13 billion), and create thousands of jobs nation-wide.
- Work with provincial governments to determine which orphaned oil and gas wells are geologically suited to produce geothermal energy. This will turn provincial liabilities into potential income-generating renewable energy, ideally in partnership with First Nations. Those with weaker geothermal energy potential may be used in district energy, including for greenhouses.
- Launch a massive energy efficiency retrofit of residential, commercial and institutional buildings. To make a renewable energy transition possible, we have to eliminate energy waste. According to trade union research, this will create over four million jobs.
- Finance building retrofits and installation of renewable energy technologies such as solar and heat pumps through direct grants, zero-interest loans and repayments based on energy/cost savings.
- Change the national building code to require new construction to meet net-zero emission standards by 2030 and work with the provinces to enact it.
The transportation sector produces over a quarter of Canada’s climate pollution and this is growing. A Green government will develop a national transportation strategy with a goal of reaching zero-carbon public ground transportation everywhere in Canada by 2040. Rail will be the hub, with spokes of light rail and electric bus connections. This includes service to rural and remote communities, since everyone in Canada must have access to reliable transportation options at affordable rates. Besides reducing pollution, this measure responds to the findings of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
To get there, Canada needs regulations to shift from gasoline-powered transportation.
- Ban the sale of internal combustion engine passenger vehicles by 2030.
- Exempt new and used electric and zero-emission vehicles from federal sales tax.
- Expand charging stations for electric vehicles, including all parking lots associated with federal facilities.
- Maximize emissions reductions in all transportation through the use of sustainably produced biofuels, made from waste wood by-products and used vegetable oils, where electric and fuel cells not viable, as is the case for fishing, mining and forestry equipment.
- Enact the Via Rail Act to implement a passenger rail transportation policy. Invest $600 million in 2020-21, rising to $720 million by 2023 to develop regional rail networks and strengthen rail connections between regions. This will include building several sections of 10 km of track to avoid bottlenecks where heavy freight pushes passenger rail to the siding.
- Build high-speed rail in the Toronto-Ottawa-Quebec City triangle and the Calgary-Edmonton corridor.
- Require all passenger ferries to convert to electric or hybrid systems by 2030.
- Create a national cycling and walking infrastructure fund to help support zero emissions active transportation.
- Develop a Green Freight Transport program to address greenhouse gas emissions and pollution in partnership with the freight industry, shipping companies and delivery businesses. Fund the re-routing of tracks for freight and rail yards away from populated areas and strengthen Canada’s rail safety rules, giving regulators the tools they need to protect neighbourhoods from train shipments of hazardous materials.
- Lead an international effort to bring international shipping and aviation into the Paris framework.
- Introduce an international tax for aviation and shipping fuels earmarked for the Global Climate Fund.
And for agriculture?
In August 2019, climate scientists released a report warning that agriculture must be transformed in order to meet climate change goals Canada has a huge opportunity to become a world leader in reversing climate change through regenerative agriculture practices. The soil will be the unsung hero, a game-changer in fighting climate change.
- Implement national standards for reducing the use of nitrogen fertilizers in crop agriculture, reducing erosion and rebuilding soils to retain carbon, and transitioning away from industrial livestock production (see Food and Food Security).
- Support the transition of industrial agriculture systems to regenerative agriculture. (See Food and Food Security).
What infrastructure will you invest in?
Even the one-degree warming already reached is producing unusually severe flooding, fires, drought and extreme weather events. It is essential that public infrastructure and natural landscapes can withstand and protect Canadians from natural and climate change induced disasters.
- Direct the Canada Infrastructure Bank, revamped to exclude private profit in infrastructure, to invest in climate-proofing essential infrastructure, prioritizing upgrades to drinking water and waste water systems to protect against flooding, droughts and contamination.
- Using the existing Green Infrastructure Fund, launch a national program to restore natural buffer zones along waterways, and carbon sinks through ecologically sound tree-planting and soil re-building.
- Invoke federal powers for peace, order and good government to develop non-commercial aspects of forest management, such as massive tree planting, creating fire breaks and fire suppression, for climate change adaptation.
- Renew the abandoned process of a National Forest Strategy, with the focus on restoring ecologically sound and climate resilient forests, and restoring forests as carbon sinks, in partnership with Indigenous Peoples. Orient federal forest science towards this goal.
Increase forest fire preparedness, including buying water bombers and ensuring they can be deployed rapidly in high-risk zones.