The false equivalencies being drawn between the Liberal and Conservative parties’ climate plans, the importance of this month’s election result to Canada’s clean energy future, and the massive majority of Canadians who want the country to succeed at its carbon-free transition are all on the agenda as Vancouver-based Clean Energy Canada rolls out a series of election op eds, reports, and opinion surveys.
The flurry of content accelerated last week. First, CEC issued a major clean energy jobs report. Then Executive Director Merran Smith and Policy Director Dan Woynillowicz published a National Observer op ed pointing to the dramatic difference in the two leading parties’ responses to the climate crisis, despite at least two media pundits’ (and some climate hawks’) insistence that there’s no daylight between them.
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“The discrepancy between how global policy experts view Canada’s climate efforts and how they are perceived among environmentally concerned Canadians appears to arise from two key things: the government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and its admission that Canada isn’t yet on track to achieve our 2030 emission reduction targets,” they write. And there’s “a third and critically important reason: most Canadians aren’t aware of all the federal government has done.”
Smith and Woynillowicz say their recent series of Observer op eds traces Canada’s efforts to support electric vehicles, phase out coal-fired generation, boost energy efficiency, introduce a clean fuel standard (against epic fossil industry opposition), and hold the line on tailpipe emission standards that have faced a sustained attack from the Trump White House.
“The net effect of these efforts will be 434 million tonnes less carbon pollution in 2030—taking Canada nearly three-quarters of the way to our 2030 Paris target,” they write. “Meanwhile, modelling of the Conservative’s Real Plan finds that emissions will—wait for it—increase between now and 2030.”
Which means that—even after the Trudeau government bought us all a pipeline, and even if neither plan hits Canada’s Paris target—the comparison is still more complicated than comparing the two plans to Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee, Smith and Woynillowicz say. Which is exactly what one media analyst did.
In a second post, this one for the Globe and Mail, Smith and CEC Senior Policy Advisor Sarah Petrevan introduce a vision of Canada’s carbon-free future by describing three jobs that already exist—a carbon dioxide recycler in Halifax who makes “stronger, cleaner concrete” for new homes, an electric bus builder in Winnipeg, and a clean fuel producer in Edmonton. “Now picture Canada in 10 years,” they write. “Imagine nearly twice as many jobs like those of Diane, Kate ,and Charles. By 2030, Canada’s clean energy sector is on track to employ 559,400 Canadians in jobs such as these across the country,” growing three times faster than employment across the economy.
Overall, Clean Energy Canada reported last week that the clean economy is set to create 160,000 new jobs by 2030, while fossil employment declines by 50,000.
But the wild card behind that analysis is the outcome of the October 21 federal election.
“This bigger, brighter picture is modelled on climate policies that were in place earlier this year—and presupposes that they would remain in place,” Smith and Petrevan warn. “As a federal election approaches, whether this is the case is a matter of question. The Conservative Party, for example, has said it will kill not only carbon pricing but also the clean fuel standard,” the loss of which would wipe out 31,000 jobs.
“Canada can still be an energy leader in the decades ahead,” they add. “But that future doesn’t exist without a strong clean energy sector—and a federal government after October’s election that will maintain and expand on the progress we’ve made.”
On Monday, Clean Energy Canada and Ottawa-based Abacus Data released a poll that showed 86% of respondents saying Canada “can be among the world’s most successful countries in developing and using clean energy technologies,” while 71% believe the country “can be even more successful in the future” if it’s thoughtful about the transition off fossil fuels.
“Most people believe there is upside for Canada in pursuing an energy transition, not only in terms of combating climate change but also in terms of economic risk and opportunity,” said Abacus Chair Bruce Anderson. “A very large majority are convinced that the clean energy and technology market is a massive opportunity for Canada, and one that must be embraced.”
“Canadians believe there’s a strong future for our clean energy sector,” Woynillowicz added. “Going backward wouldn’t just worsen climate change, it would threaten a significant sector that Canadians are counting on to create opportunity as the world transitions from fossil fuels.”
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