Canada declared a climate emergency on June 17. And during the ongoing election campaign, climate has emerged at the top issue. It’s time to be a climate voter and elect a government that will not ask what will it cost, but ask rather what will it take.
Comparing the Party Platforms
Analysis and most of the text is from the CBC analysis. (Editor note)
Canada’s 2030 emissions target (Paris Agreement commitment) stands at 511 megatonnes, 30% below 2005 levels. We are currently at 716 megatonnes of CO2 emissions.
Based on existing policies, the Liberals will miss the 2030 emissions target, with policies like the carbon tax getting Canada on the path to emissions reductions — but not going far enough. The Liberal plan gets Canada to about 620 megatonnes, still short of the target.
The Conservatives have pledged to meet Canada’s 2030 target, but they miss the target by 133.9 megatonnes, getting us further away than the Liberal plan. The Conservative plan reaches a dismal 645 megatonnes.
The NDP has promised a more ambitious climate policy, and while it outperforms the Liberal plan, it still misses the target by a significant margin. The NDP platform is slightly better at 608 megatonnes.
The Greens, who have called for a war-like mobilization to fight climate change, achieve the most dramatic emissions reductions, far exceeding Canada’s official target. The Green plan gets us to 445 megatonnes. Only the Green party has the climate platform to reach the 2030 goal.
Not What Will It Cost, But What Will It Take
The text is sourced from the Green Party of Canada. (Editor note)
We have a climate emergency. In an emergency, the first question you ask is not what will it cost, but what will it take. Of course it is important to proceed in the most cost-effective way possible. In fact, the urgency demands that we make every dollar invested in the transition to a low carbon future stretch as far as we can.
The question is no longer and never should have been whether the transition to a low carbon future is affordable and therefore whether we should proceed or not. The question is how do we make that transition as quickly and cost-efficiently as we possibly can.
The Green Party applauds CBC for attempting to understand our climate plan, but we are concerned that this type of modelling distorts the costs. The models are not designed to [project] transformative change, which is what the Green Party’s climate and energy platform is all about.
The same can be said for our economic models, which treat the economy as an equilibrium system, which it is not. [Models] typically represent the future as a bigger version of the past, when we know we are in a period of fundamental change.
The problem with models
Imagine it is the year 1919 and you are trying to model the automobile system and its future impact on the economy. Only one in 40 people owns a car. If you had a model of the economy, the transportation portion would have been completely dominated by railroad and shipping industries. The car would have been relegated to a secondary status, its historic economic potential hiding in plain sight.
By 1930, just 11 years later, half the households in Canada had cars and the auto industry was established as a pillar of the economy. That kind of rapid transformative change is what we need now…with the transition off fossil fuel. It will define the economies of the 21st century in much the way the car defined the economies and even the societies of the 20th century. We mustn’t let our backward-looking models blind us to the future of opportunities offered by the low carbon transition.
The transition to low carbon is affordable
We are beginning to see that the cost of the low carbon transition will be less than what we have been assuming. There are several reasons for this. One, the pace of innovation in technologies for making electricity from solar and wind resources, and for storing energy, has been bringing down the costs of these technologies at rates we did not dream possible even ten years ago. Two, the more we do, the cheaper it gets. This is Economics 101.
There are tremendous economies of scale that come into play as the pace of the transition accelerates and the markets for the new technologies accelerate. As the demand for everything from heat pumps to high performance windows grows from hundreds of thousands to tens of millions, the prices come down. Three, the new business and financial models for the low carbon transition are slashing and even eliminating transaction costs, learning curves, and inefficient logistics and delivery methods that have contributed to higher costs in the past.
A future Canada that continues down the unsustainable path of fossil fuel dependence will ruin our economy. A future Canada that runs on renewable, carbon-free energy will help us back away from climate disaster while renewing our economy at the same time.
We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. ~ Greta Thunberg
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