A 60% greenhouse gas emissions cut by 2030, job transition programs for fossil workers, a ban on new pipelines, coal mining, and oil and gas drilling or mining, and an end to fossil fuel subsidies within a year are at the centre of the election platform released this week by the federal Green Party.
The Greens are also the only party running in the October 21 election to promise an increase in the federal carbon tax, states the Toronto Star.
- Concise headlines. Original content. Timely news and views from a select group of opinion leaders. Special extras.
- Everything you need, nothing you don’t.
- The Weekender: The climate news you need.
“The climate emergency must be the lens through which every policy envelope is viewed,” the Greens’ platform says. “Alone among political parties, the Green Party has a climate emergency response plan that recognizes our house is on fire.”
The party “would ban hydraulic fracking in the natural gas industry, cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, and eliminate what they describe as fossil fuel subsidies,” the Globe and Mail reports. “The party’s platform is designed to address a climate crisis, and says new jobs would be created through investments—by both government and the private sector—in a massive energy efficiency retrofit of residential, commercial, and institutional buildings, as well as green transportation infrastructure, including a high-speed rail in the Toronto-Ottawa-Quebec City triangle and the Calgary-Edmonton corridor.”
The platform proposes to save “several billion dollars a year” by cancelling Trans Mountain and fossil subsidies and reinvest that money in a national renewable grid strategy, the Globe notes. “It’s an exciting time to be alive because we actually can do all these things, but not with business as usual,” Green leader Elizabeth May said, during the party’s launch event in Toronto.
“Inevitably, jobs in fossil fuel sectors will disappear. The Green Party is committed to a ‘just transition’ of workers from these sectors into new ones,” the platform says. “This will include measures such as income protection, jobs guarantees, retraining, and resettlement,” with details to be tied down in partnership with workers and their unions.
“This is what the economy needs,” May told the Globe, contending that the program adds up to a strong economy. “It’s not a handful of work camps, but good-paying jobs, and lots of them.”
But “the cost of the platform will not be released for another week,” the paper notes, “leaving questions about the economic impact of the Greens’ proposals hanging over the plan.” May said the Greens sent their platform to the Parliamentary Budget Office for independent assessment in June, but that review is not yet complete.
University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe said building retrofits and construction of a national electricity grid would deliver economic benefits. “Any action to lower emissions will come with a cost to the economy,” he added, but “maybe that’s a cost worth paying—and that’s a debate we should be having. But we shouldn’t be under the impression that we can dramatically change our behaviour without a cost.”
Other Green platform planks include a higher corporate tax rate pegged at 21%, rather than the current 15%, a new tax on transnational e-commerce, a new commission to analyse the tax system for fairness and accessibility, and measures to support electoral reform, affordable housing, improved Indigenous relations, universal pharmacare, dental care for low-income Canadians, and consumer protection mechanisms, CBC reports.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t the Greens still want to use fossil fuels – in particular Alberta oil, the most energy intensive, polluting extraction process in the world – during what they see as a transition period to green energy?I suppose the thinking is, well, since we’re going to keep burning the stuff, might as well burn Canadian fossil fuels. But why encourage the production of fossil fuels at all – anywhere -when we all know we’re past the point of no return already? This position seems contradictory to me and would prolong the complete movement off fossil fuels we so desperately need.