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 that 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 emissions in line with keeping warming below 1.5 degrees C — the aspirational goal of the international Paris Agreement. The party would not promise to create programs “clearly and specifically” designed to reduce emissions form 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 their expectations for the survey responses. That’s why they felt comfortable deeming the Tory 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.
Gray pointed to the series of reports from the United Nations over the past year, which 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,” he 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.
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The Conservative plan, however, does not include a clear commitment to reduce emissions and would scrap existing programs like the carbon price-and-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.