Climate change and net zero: Liberal Party’s climate plan

September 10, 2021  |  Charles Lin

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The Canadian Liberal government has called a federal election for September 20, 2021. This is the third article in our series on the election, which focuses on the Liberal’s climate plan in the Liberal Party election platform.

  1. Maintain carbon pricing policy

The Liberals will continue the federal policy on carbon pricing, which ramps to $50/tonne of emissions in 2022, and $170/tonne by 2030. This policy serves as a backstop for provinces that do not develop their own pricing mechanism consistent with federal guidelines, with 90% of the tax revenue collected returned to Canadians via tax rebates; provinces that set their own mechanism can use 100% of the proceeds as they see fit. A tariff could be applied to imports from countries that do not have adequate carbon pricing of emissions-intensive industrial products such as steel, cement and aluminum. This will be done in collaboration with key trading partners like the US and European Union.

  1. Set targets to cap oil and gas emissions

Set recurring 5-year targets starting in 2025 to cap emissions for the oil and gas sector, at a pace to achieve net zero by 2050. This starts with 2025 and 2030 milestones based on advice from the Net-Zero Advisory Body, a group providing independent advice to the government on pathways to reach the 2050 net zero goal. The target caps are important as emissions from the oil and gas sector have risen by 20% since 2005 and are now the country’s largest emitting sector, accounting for 26% of Canada’s total emissions.

  1. Accelerate industry’s transition to net zero

Invest $8 billion through the government’s Net Zero Accelerator to create green jobs and accelerate Canada’s industrial transformation, including adoption of clean technologies such as carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). An additional $1.75 billion will be targeted for the aerospace sector to accelerate the transition.

  1. Promote adoption of electric vehicles

The government set a target in June 2021 that all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks sold be zero emissions by 2035. Policies will be put in place to provide incentives for the adoption of electric vehicles, such as rebates for their purchase and investments in charging stations.

  1. Support for workers in the net zero transition

Fund programs in regional economic diversification and job training to help workers and communities transition to a net zero economy. Green jobs in the energy sector include installation of solar panels, drilling for geothermal energy, and projects in CCUS. These programs will be designed in collaboration with local workers, unions, educational institutions, environmental groups, and investors at the community level.

  1. Adaptation initiatives for extreme weather events

Climate change has already exacerbated extreme weather events like floods, wildfires, drought, and coastal erosion. Set up initiatives to help Canadians adapt to these events, including $500 million to fight wildfires through the training and equipping of new firefighters and incorporation of Indigenous knowledge in fire management. Canada’s first-ever National Adaptation Strategy will be finalized by 2022, which will set targets and indicators to strengthen the business case and measure progress on adaptation.

What does all this mean?

A Liberal government, if re-elected, will implement the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, and advance measures to achieve a 40-45% reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. The Act, passed by the Canadian Senate on June 29, 2021, enshrines in law Canada’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050 and requires the federal government to set national targets for emission reductions.

The setting of targets is an important first step. A notable commitment in the Liberal platform is the setting of 5-year emission targets specific to the oil and gas sector, starting in 2025.

Policy initiatives aimed at achieving the targets, and adapting to the inevitable impacts of climate change, are also needed. The successful development and implementation of these policy initiatives, such as the ones described above, will determine whether Canada meets its net zero goals.

Appendix: Election topics we have covered to date

Charles Lin

Charles is a retired atmospheric scientist based in Toronto. He stays busy as founder and lead of ImpactNetZero, keeping healthy in mind and body, and reading stories to his two grandchildren.

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