A chart rating the parties on four policy areas

Short Version: What You Need to Know 

Conservatives: The Conservatives are at least clear: they don’t even pretend to care about climate change or that they will really do anything about it.

Liberal: The Liberal platform is a paradox that promises to be better than the Conservatives at both fighting climate change and getting new tar sands pipelines built. While they have some promising environmental initiatives, voters are asked to wait until after the election to learn how much more a Liberal government would do to fight climate change and how their respect for science-based limits can be squared with a significant expansion in tar sands production.

NDP: The NDP platform recognizes the urgency of climate action and commits to using policy tools like nation-wide carbon pricing and green infrastructure investments that can put us on the road to a 100% renewable energy economy. Their proposal to assess projects within the context of our international GHG reduction targets should mean that no new tar sands pipelines would be approved under this system.

Green: The Green Party platform has the most comprehensive vision for how to make a transition to a 100% renewable energy future and the clearest opposition to the expansion of the tar sands. The biggest question is how they would pay for their proposed green energy infrastructure investments, because they have committed to refund all of the  money they would raise via carbon pricing to taxpayers – calculated at more than $25 billion per year.

Long Version: More Than You Probably Want To Know

Thousands of Canadians have asked our political leaders where they stand on the key issues related to energy, climate and democracy. Here’s where they stand.

YES to a 100% renewable energy economy

In order to ensure a prosperous economy that protects Canada’s air and water, accelerate our transition to a 100% renewable energy economy by 2050. 

Conservatives: Signed on to G7 commitment to go fossil fuel-free by 2100. Environment Canada reports that current policies won’t come close to achieving the Conservative government’s own GHG reduction target for 2020. Announced a GHG target14% below 1990 levels (30% below 2005 levels) by 2030. Haven’t proposed new policies that would achieve this goal. While in government, they eliminated federal incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Liberal: No GHG reduction target proposed, but will determine one after consultation with provinces. Have acknowledged Canada’s responsibility to keep warming below 2°C. Enhance tax measures to generate more clean technology investments, and encourage research, development, and manufacturing of clean technology. Establish the Canada Green Investment Bond to support both large- and community- scale renewable energy projects. Increase the federal government’s use of clean technologies in energy, buildings, and purchasing. Improve energy efficiency standards for consumer and commercial products. Provide more support for clean technology companies hoping to export their products.Increase investment in public transit by nearly $6 billion  during  the next four years, and almost $20 billion  within ten years.

NDP: GHG reduction target of 34% below 1990 levels by 2025/2030. Introduce a system of Green Bonds as a  financing mechanism to allow Canadians to invest up to $4.5 billion in renewable energy and clean technology. Spend $200-million over four years to help retrofit homes and apartments to make them more energy efficient, and invest $150-million over four years to a green municipal fund to support.Buy electric vehicles for government fleet and set up 150 electric-car charging stations on federal properties.

Green: Move to the virtual elimination of fossil fuel use in Canada by mid-century. The targets are by 2025 to cut emissions 26% below what they were in 1990 and by 2050 emissions would be cut by 80%. Work with provinces to ensure the rapid phase-out of coal fired generation plants within Canada and exports of thermal coal. Work with Canada’s renewable energy sector to accelerate the construction of green infrastructure, ensuring a majority of Canada’s energy needs come from renewable sources by 2025. National transportation strategy  that includes investing in local public transit and expanding VIA Rail passenger rail service. Establish a federally-funded Green Venture Capital Fund to support viable local green business start-ups.

Charge a fee for carbon pollution and invest these resources in the transition to renewables.

Conservatives: Strongly oppose carbon pricing.

Liberal: In 2016, organize a meeting with  provinces and territories to establish national emissions-reduction targets. Offer federal funding, but allow provinces the flexibility to establish their own policies which might or might not include carbon pricing. Phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry in order to fulfill Canada’s G-20 commitment.

NDP: Create a cap-and-trade system with a market price on carbon emissions: Revenue from cap-and-trade would be kept by provincial governments for investment in a greener energy sector.Provinces with a carbon pricing regime equivalent or better than federal system could opt out of federal system. Redirect $240M in fossil fuel subsidies to investment in the clean energy sector.

Green: Introduce carbon pricing through a fee-and-dividend system to reduce fossil fuel use and encourage private sector investment in green tech, clean energy and green jobs. Platform suggests that the carbon price could begin at $50 per tonne of carbon dioxide and increase to $200/tonne by 2030. All revenue from the carbon fee would be returned to citizens directly as a dividend. The revenue required for their proposed green infrastructure investments would be raised by eliminating tax subsidies and tax havens, and the introduction of an estate tax and a financial transactions tax.

YES to stronger environmental laws and respect for First Nations rights

Rebuild and strengthen Canada’s environmental laws in an open, collaborative manner informed by the best scientific evidence.

Conservatives: Weakened all major environmental laws to fast-track pipelines. Muzzled scientists and cut funding to climate science.

Liberal: Replace Harper’s changes to the environmental assessments with a new, comprehensive, timely, and fair process that restores robust oversight, ensures decisions are evidence-based, and allows the public to meaningfully participate. Modernize and rebuild trust in the National Energy Board. Review the current federal environmental assessment process, and ensure it includes an analysis of upstream impacts and the greenhouse gas emissions. Ensure that the Crown is fully executing its constitutional duty to consult and respect Aboriginal Peoples on project reviews and assessments. Conduct a wholesale review of the Conservatives’ changes to the Fisheries Act and the elimination of the Navigable Waters Act, to re-establish lost protections and incorporate more modern safeguards.

NDP: Will work with provinces, industry and with indigenous and other communities to overhaul and strengthen Canada’s environmental assessment regime. Will make it open, fair and transparent; account for a project’s impact on our climate; and respect our new international obligation to reduce greenhouse gases.

Green: Restore the habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act and revise the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Will implement new legislation to ensure that any new laws or regulations are based on sound evidence that is transparent, rigorous, ethically produced, easy to access and understand, based on the best available information and free from political manipulation. Will enact Public Access to Science legislation to ensure scientists are free to discuss their findings with the media and the Canadian public without censorship or political interference. Open science legislation would also ensure that all government-funded scientific research is publicly accessible by law.

Respect treaty rights.

Conservatives: Do not accept the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent found in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Liberal: Will enact the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starting with the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

NDP: Have committed to work with Indigenous peoples to usher in a new Nation-to-Nation era, including a cabinet-level committee dedicated to making progress on Indigenous issues.

Green: Will honour the spirit and intent of Land Claims Agreements and uphold the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Repeal Bill C51, which unfairly targets environmental and Indigenous advocates.

Conservatives: Voted for Bill C-51.

Liberals: Voted for Bill C-51, but have said they would amend it if they form government.

NDP: Voted against C-51 and have said they will repeal it if they form government.

Green: Voted against C-51 and would repeal it if in government.

NO to further expansion of the tar sands

No new oil sands or related infrastructure projects should proceed unless consistent with an implemented plan to rapidly reduce carbon pollution, safeguard biodiversity, protect human health, and respect treaty rights.

Conservatives: Strong supporters of tar sands expansion.

Liberal: Support expansion of the tar sands, but with greater environmental protections. Oppose the Gateway pipeline, but support Keystone XL. Favourable to Energy East and Transmountain pipelines, but say company has to make the case.

NDP: Support more domestic refining of bitumen. Oppose the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines. Say Energy East and Kinder Morgan can’t be approved without a more stringent environmental review process that includes assessment of upstream GHGs within the context of national GHG reduction commitments.

Green: Will stop the growth in oil sands expansion. Will protect existing jobs in the industry and create new jobs by upgrading and refining existing production, and providing skills training for workers who have been laid off or who want to transition to more stable, long-term jobs. Oppose all new exports of raw bitumen.

NO to Arctic drilling

We can’t expand the oil frontier into the fragile Arctic ecosystem if we are to have any hope of keeping warming below dangerous levels.

Conservatives: Support Arctic drilling.

Liberal: No public position on Arctic drilling.

NDP: No public position on Arctic drilling, although Mulcair has publicly opposed seismic blasting.

Green: Unequivocally opposed to Arctic oil drilling as it is one of the most dangerous proposed projects in the history of our country.

Sources Conservative Party

Environment Canada (2014). Canada’s Emission Trends 2014. Mike de Souza (2014). Harper’s Timeline: Canada on Climate Change from 2006-2014. Liberal Party Liberal Party of Canada (2015). Real Change: Liberal Party Platform.

New Democratic Party

Mulcair, Thomas (2015). “Growing the economy by protecting our environment: Tom Mulcair’s speech at iVote-jeVote.”

New Democratic Party of Canada (2015). Canada to show leadership on climate change with Tom Mulcair.

Green Party

Green Party of Canada (2015). “A serious climate change agenda: Green Party of Canada platform background paper.”

Green Party of Canada (2015). Green Party Platform