Canadian election frontrunners coy on emissions cuts

Published 16:08 on October 12, 2015  /  Last updated at 16:08 on October 12, 2015  /  Americas, Canada  /  No Comments

The leader of Canada’s Liberals, which recent polls show have built a comfortable lead over the ruling Conservatives ahead of the Oct. 19 federal election, won’t commit to deepening the country’s emissions reduction targets despite slamming the environmental record of current PM Stephen Harper.

The leader of Canada’s Liberals, which recent polls show have built a comfortable lead over the ruling Conservatives ahead of the Oct. 19 federal election, won’t commit to deepening the country’s emissions reduction targets despite slamming the environmental record of current PM Stephen Harper.

Justin Trudeau, son of former Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau, on Saturday said that if elected he would reconsider the current pledge to cut GHGs by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, which was announced by the Conservatives in May.

“Everybody has thrown out numbers and different targets, and what they’re going to do and what is going to happen,” Trudeau said in an interview with CBC.

“What we need is not ambitious political targets. What we need is an ambitious plan to reduce our emissions in the country.”

He added that “one of the things we’ve seen from political parties of all stripes – including my party in the past – is talking about targets on a political level, but not necessarily implementing a plan to achieve those targets.”

In their election platform, the Liberals have promised to significantly increase federal funding for carbon-cutting projects.

“Our number is C$20 billion in investments in green infrastructure over the next 10 years,” Trudeau added when pressed for more details.

“We’re talking about C$2 billion in a trust to help provinces make the shift to lower emissions. We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars invested in green energy initiatives, in clean technology initiatives.”

Trudeau recognised that most of the current ambition to reduce CO2 in Canada is coming from sub-national levels, for example the provinces that have imposed wide-reaching carbon taxes or emissions trading schemes.

“The provinces have stepped up,” he said. “What we need is federal leadership that works with them to actually reduce emissions.”

OPPONENTS

The Liberal position is in contrast to that of the New Democrats (NDP), which have vowed to replace the current goal with ones to cut by 34% below 1990 levels by 2030, and by 80% below by 2050.

NDP leader Tom Mulcair also wants to introduce a nationwide emissions trading programme that would let any provinces with existing or planned CO2-cutting schemes opt out while imposing federal regulations on the rest.

And the Green Party, which along with the separatist Bloc Quebecois is well behind the three main parties in electorate polls, has promised to slash GHGs by at least 40% below 2005 levels by 2025, and by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

During the 11-week election campaign, Trudeau had accused Harper of ignoring Canada’s environmental responsibilities for the past 10 years, while making the country’s oil sands an international pariah.

The Liberals have promised to establish a pan-Canadian framework for fighting climate change and to work with partners to the south to develop a long-term North American clean energy and environmental pact.

Trudeau also supports the G20’s commitment to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term.

Recent polls have put the Liberal lead at more than six points over the Conservatives.

By Mike Szabo – mike@carbon-pulse.com

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