In Thursday night’s debate, liberal leader Justin Trudeau was hit from all sides for setting ambitious climate targets and failing to meet, and it is an open question whether his defense will win over voters.
In April, Trudeau announced that Canada’s updated 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target would be 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels, a sharp drop given that the country has only managed to reduce emissions. one percent from 2005 levels so far.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and conservative leader Erin O’Toole accused Trudeau of failing to comply with climate action, while Trudeau responded that he had inherited the leftovers of the government from Stephen Harper, who “did not believe in fighting change. climate”.
“We had a lot to catch up with, but what we were able to do in six years is put a national price on pollution … and right now, we are on track to exceed the 2030 targets that were set at the beginning. from Paris, ”Trudeau said.
O’Toole said Trudeau “has never set a goal”, adding that his “great ambition” does not match achievement. Singh agreed.
“You can’t say that Trudeau hasn’t met his goal, because it’s not 2030,” says Louise Comeau, director of climate and energy for the New Brunswick Conservation Council. “Evaluation is (how) the conditions are established to achieve the objective.”
All four parties from across the country in the debate have a climate goal in mind. The conservative promise is a 30 percent reduction by 2030. Liberals commit 40 to 45 percent. The NDP says it can hit 50 percent, while the Green Party has an ambitious 60 percent target.
The 30 percent target is what Canada first committed to under the Paris Agreement, but it falls far short of the country’s fair share, which is estimated to be around 60 percent. the IPCC 1.5 C Historical Report It is said that to keep global warming at 1.5 C, the world would have to cut emissions by 45 percent relative to 2010 levels.
“What Trudeau did was take what the IPCC said in terms of the required global average, and said that’s a science-based target, and we’re going to target that,” Comeau said.
“Let me tell you, for a country like Canada to get between 40 and 45 percent, given the fact that many governments (have) allowed the oil and gas sector to grow, it is a heavy task,” he added.
Comeau said the political reality in Canada, with Alberta desperate to get its oil to market, leaves Trudeau in a bind.
“We are talking about the long-term prosperity of a nation here, we are not talking about a party’s personal report card,” says @tur_isabelle of @Pembina. # Elxn44 #cdnpoli
“From a scientific point of view, we should shut down the oil sands. From the country’s point of view, we are going to control ourselves, ”he said. “I can be committed to getting where we need to be in terms of not using oil and gas in our economy, but at the same time, I would like the country to stick together while we do it.”
Isabelle Turcotte, director of federal policy at the Pembina Institute, said that with COP26 on the horizon, Canada “cannot come forward and say that we are going to do less.”
“It matters a lot that we have a party that is committed to reducing current targets, while we have other parties that maintain 40 to 45 percent, or go even higher,” he said.
O’Toole justified setting his goal below what Canada had already committed to with Paris as realistic and achievable.
Turcotte asked what is the value of setting a low goal just so he can claim success.
“We are talking about the long-term prosperity of a nation here, we are not talking about a party’s personal report card,” he said.
Comeau echoed the concern, calling the conservative plan “ridiculous.”
“It’s ridiculous in the face of science, (and) it’s ridiculous in the face of the delay it will cause in terms of our transition,” he said.
However, none of the climate experts were about to let the Trudeau liberals get out of trouble.
Turcotte said the recent liberal promise to limit oil and gas emissions is an example of a critical step not taken in the past six years. Comeau said there are political challenges that somehow tie Trudeau’s hands, but if the government were aligned with science, it would act more aggressively to phase out the oil sands.
Amara Possian, Canada Campaign Manager with Climate Group 350, was more direct in her assessment.
“Justin Trudeau has had six years to address the climate emergency … and when we look at the promises he makes for the future, we also have to look at his track record. And their record on the weather is brutal, ”he said.
Possian said that as the country’s leader, Trudeau has had the opportunity to shape the debate and did not take the opportunity to put the kinds of measures that are needed on the agenda.
“From the beginning, I could have said that we need these big and bold solutions to face this moment, we must make sure we do not leave behind the workers, especially the rural and indigenous communities, and this is our plan,” he said. said. “But he put all his eggs in the carbon tax basket and he tied himself to this idea that we need pipes to make the transition to a green economy.
Comeau says there is an enormous amount of inertia to overcome and that six years is not as long to reduce emissions as some might think.
“We’ve had a big push towards increasing emissions because Harper decided that it would make us an energy superpower,” he said, adding that it takes years to develop legislation, establish regulations, set targets, negotiate with other parties, pass through of Parliament, and then make the people comply.
John Woodside / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer