On June 20, Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada released the party’s long-promised climate change policy document: A Real Plan to Protect Our Environment . The plan is organized and presented around three guiding principles: 1. Green Technology, Not Taxes; 2. A Cleaner and Greener Natural Environment; and 3. Taking the Climate Change Fight Global.
“Green Technology, Not Taxes” relies on the established Conservative criticism that carbon taxes make life more expensive for all, but not all Canadians have cleaner alternatives available to them. The document asks “how high will your carbon tax go?”, and cites the discredited June 13 study by the Parliamentary Budget Office, Closing the Gap: Carbon pricing for the Paris target to predict that the carbon tax would need to be $102 per tonne to reach Canada’s emissions reductions targets under the Paris Agreement. The Conservatives advocate a number of general measures, including a Green Investment Standard instead of a carbon tax, by which companies will be required to reduce their emissions to the government’s emission standards, and those which exceed that Green Investment Standard (not specified) will be required to invest in research, development, and adoption of emissions-reducing technology related to their industry. The National Observer analysis points out the similarities of the Green Investment Standard to proposals made by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers in its recent election-related release: Oil and Natural Gas Priorities: Putting Canada On The World Stage: An Energy Platform for Canada .
Other proposals in the Conservative party platform: a two-year Green Homes Tax Credit for homeowners who make energy-saving renovations which cost more than $1000, to a limit of $20,000; a Green Patent Credit that will reduce the business tax rate from 15% to 5% on income that is generated from green technology developed and patented in Canada; consultation with government and industry stakeholders to encourage innovation in the transition to cleaner personal transportation, and for heavy-duty fleets; support for the strategic interconnection of electricity grids, on a project by project basis to connect regions, or through the creation of a national energy corridor. Also, the plan promises to ban plastics waste exports unless there are recycling commitments, and “work with producers to minimize the plastic packaging of products.” And as for oil and gas, it states that Canada should export more oil and gas in order to replace “dirtier foreign energy sources.”
The National Observer reaction in “Scheer touts industry friendly climate plan” (June 20), in addition to pointing out the similarities with the CAPP proposals, states that Scheer refused to provide estimates of the emissions reductions that would result from his plan, and his staff did not provide any academic studies or background documents to support any of the proposals. “Several environmental groups, including Greenpeace Canada, Stand.Earth, and Clean Energy Canada, decried the Conservative announcement, saying it would not do enough to address the climate crisis, possibly making it worse.” Even the mainstream press are shrugging off the Conservative plan, with such headlines as “Andrew Scheer’s climate plan leaves a lot to voters’ imaginations” by Aaron Wheery at the CBC (June 20) ; “The Scheer Climate Plan, whatever” by Paul Wells in Macleans ; and a Globe and Mail Opinion piece by Gary Mason which calls the plan a “sad joke”. Even John Ivison, a columnist with the Calgary Herald, states in his opinion piece that the platform document is “a missed opportunity”, and “It should come as no surprise that the new Conservative climate plan is a Potemkin village of a policy, designed to give the impression of solidity to a fake, precarious construction.”
In “How real is Andrew Scheer’s ‘real plan’ to tackle climate change” in The Narwhal , author Sarah Cox provides detailed discussion of key issues in the plan, including input from experts Kathryn Harrison and Laura Coristine. Kathryn Harrison provides this assessment: “I think it is a plan that is designed to appeal to a subset of voters who want to be convinced that Canada can step up and do its part without actually doing anything. It is devoid of detail.”
And The Tyee on June 26 combined the results of two interviews with two experts: Isabelle Turcotte, the director of federal policy for the Pembina Institute, and Cam Fenton , communications and strategy manager for 350 Canada. Each weighs in on aspects of the climate plans from the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, and Green Party.