Con­ser­va­tives out of step with en­vi­ron­ment: new sur­vey says

Un­like other Cana­dian po­lit­i­cal par­ties par­tic­i­pat­ing in pre-elec­tion sur­vey, Tories wouldn’t prom­ise to re­duce car­bon emis­sions or cre­ate pro­grams

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - ALEX BALLINGALL

OT­TAWA — The fed­eral Con­ser­va­tives ap­pear out of step with the elec­tion pri­or­i­ties of 14 ma­jor en­vi­ron­men­tal groups, which con­cluded the party is not com­mit­ting to any of the cli­mate change and con­ser­va­tion mea­sures pro­posed in a new sur­vey.

Pub­lished Tues­day, the sur­vey was con­ducted by En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fence, a na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion that rep­re­sents a host of green groups. It asked the six ma­jor fed­eral par­ties a se­ries of “yes” or “no” ques­tions about how they would ap­proach en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues af­ter the Oct. 21 elec­tion.

The Con­ser­va­tives gave the same an­swer to each ques­tion, which En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fence deemed a “no” across the board.

It found the Con­ser­va­tives would not vow to re­duce car­bon emis­sions in line with keep­ing warm­ing be­low 1.5 C — the as­pi­ra­tional goal of the in­ter­na­tional Paris Agree­ment.

The party would not prom­ise to cre­ate pro­grams “clearly and specif­i­cally” de­signed to re­duce emis­sions from the trans­porta­tion, build­ings and oil and gas sec­tors that to­gether make up the ma­jor­ity of an­nual emis­sions in Canada.

The Tories would also not com­mit to im­ple­ment­ing the United Na­tions Dec­la­ra­tion on the Rights of In­dige­nous Peo­ples, or to craft a strat­egy to ban un­nec­es­sary sin­gle-use plas­tics.

Their four main ri­vals — the Lib­er­als, New Democrats, Greens and Bloc Québé­cois — said they would pur­sue all of th­ese poli­cies.

The far-right Peo­ple’s Party of Canada did not re­spond to the sur­vey.

Tim Gray, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fence, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion spent time with the Con­ser­va­tives over the past few weeks, ex­plain­ing its ex­pec­ta­tions for the sur­vey re­sponses. That’s why the group felt com­fort­able deem­ing the party’s re­sponse to be a “no” to all ques­tions, he said.

“The re­sponses, I think, speak for them­selves on the par­ties, about what their view is on mak­ing com­mit­ments on act­ing on those is­sues or not,” Gray said.

He pointed to the se­ries of re­ports from the United Na­tions over the past year that un­der­scored the press­ing and dire threat of ru­n­away cli­mate change if the world fails to take “un­prece­dented” ac­tion.

“We re­ally don’t have time for elect­ing a gov­ern­ment that doesn’t take the en­vi­ron­ment chal­lenge se­ri­ously, so peo­ple re­ally need to be in­formed for this elec­tion,” Gray said.

The Lib­er­als, NDP and Greens have all com­mit­ted to ex­ceed­ing Canada’s cur­rent emis­sions tar­get of hit­ting 30 per cent be­low 2005 lev­els by 2030.

Th­ese par­ties have also said they would push to ef­fec­tively elim­i­nate Canada’s emis­sions by 2050, while push­ing the adop­tion of more zero-emis­sion ve­hi­cles and sup­port­ing work­ers who tran­si­tion out of the fos­sil-fuel in­dus­try into new jobs.

The Con­ser­va­tive plan, how­ever, does not in­clude a clear com­mit­ment to re­duce emis­sions, and would scrap ex­ist­ing pro­grams like the car­bon price­and-re­bate sys­tem and in­com­ing clean fuel stan­dards.

The party would force heavy emit­ters to in­vest un­spec­i­fied amounts in green tech­nol­ogy, in­tro­duce a tax credit for home retrofits, and try to take credit when other coun­tries re­place dirt­ier fu­els like coal with less emis­sions-heavy sources from Canada.

JONATHAN HAY­WARD THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

The fed­eral Con­ser­va­tives un­der An­drew Scheer scored fail­ing grades with en­vi­ron­men­tal groups af­ter be­ing un­will­ing to com­mit to any cli­mate-change mea­sures pro­posed in a sur­vey.

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