Monday, April 4, 2011

GHG Election Tracker - The Liberal Platform

I dedicated my blog space to giving impartial review to the policies of the parties as they impact climate change and GHG emissions. So no favourtism to any party is intended. But right now the Liberals are out front on action on climate change and emissions reductions with the release of their party platform yesterday. We look forward to the detailed platform releases from the other parties.

Let's do a quick review on how the Liberals' platform stacks up against my 5-climate-change-action-strategies checklist:

1. Targets
The Liberals are proposing a target of 80% below 1990 GHG emission levels by 2050. In 1990, Canada's National GHG Inventory totaled 592 Megatonnes. Our annual emission totals have been rising steadily ever since. By choosing 1990 as the baseline year, the Liberals have shown that they are making a serious commitment to addressing dangerous climate change as an issue for our nation.

By comparison, the Conservatives took 2005 as their baseline year, the second highest year in the past 20 at 731 Megatonnes. By choosing a high-total baseline year, the Conservatives' percentage based targets are very weak. Their most recent announced target was 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. We shall see if their is a new one in their election platform.

2. Regulations and Incentives
The Liberals have committed to one of the strongest policy tools that can be employed to reduce emissions. Their cap-and-trade plan has been called "the most significant piece of economic legislation since NAFTA" by the Globe and Mail. The plan has teeth in that it addresses every region and every economic sector. Also, significantly, they propose to work with the provinces to incorporate their early actions on the Western Climate Initiative. I look forward to more details on the plan and a proposed timeline. I think a full blog post on the cap-and-trade plan is warranted. Stay tuned for more.

3. Energy Sources and Efficiency
Lots of meat on these bones in the platform. A return of the Renewable Power Production Incentive will be welcomed by the renewable energy industry and should stimulate growth of renewables. Efficiency tax credits for renovations. Action on Oil Sands development. Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. Lots to chew on here.

4. Climate Change Research and Funding
I can't say I've gone over the 98 document cover to cover with a fine-toothed comb. However, any commitment to climate change research seems to be part of their more general commitment to funding research and innovation in general. Nothing specific yet.

5. International Policy
This zone of climate change policy action is a strong suit for the party that brought Canada into Kyoto. The platform commits to the aggressive international goal of a 2 degree limit to global warming. The Liberals also commit to cooperating with other nations in the negotiations to produce a post-Kyoto climate agreement. I can see another full blog post devoted to "International Policy" upcoming. In light of my experience at Copenhagen and Cancun, I have lots to say on this topic.

These comments are just my initial read-through of a dense document. I expect to dig deeper in the coming days. However their action on these 5 tenets taken together show me the first real commitment by a political party in Canada to address climate change, meet international obligations, and grow a healthy green economy in the post-carbon 21st century.

I look forward to commenting on the platforms of the other parties.

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