The solution to climate change according to each campus party
It’s no secret that the key to climate change action often lies in the decision-making of our political leaders. With this in mind, we reached out to the leaders of our campus’ major political party groups to ask what each thought about the future of Canada’s environmental policy, and why their party will provide what’s needed.
There are scientific truths one must accept when discussing climate change. It is happening. It is anthropogenic. There is a finite amount of carbon humans can emit to avoid the most serious effects of our changing climate, and that global “carbon budget” is disappearing terrifyingly quickly.
To meet the targets of the Paris Accord and limit warming to less than 2°C, we must make drastic changes in how we live, work, and treat our planet. If we do nothing, that budget will be exhausted in just over 19 years. And Canada is currently doing nothing.
By concentrating on three key sectors, we can greatly reduce Canada’s emissions: transportation, energy, and buildings—our largest polluters.
Expanding high-speed passenger rail and investing in municipal public transit will remove cars from the road and reduce air traffic. Rigorous vehicle emissions standards, investments in rapid charging infrastructure, and incentives for Canadian vehicle manufacturers and energy storage technologies mean that the remaining cars will become electric.
Solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, and hydroelectric energy will power a modern national electrical grid. With this new grid, provinces like Ontario could purchase more economical hydroelectric power from Québec, rather than importing energy from the U.S. Most provinces have already closed their coal powered plants, and the rest must follow.
The cost of heating and cooling our buildings is immense. Energy conservation achieved by retrofitting Canada’s existing buildings and developing national energy efficiency building codes will save money and reduce waste. A retrofit grant program for low-income households and refundable tax credits will enable all homeowners to benefit from these savings, and put Canadians to work.
The Green Party is the only one to offer comprehensive solutions to these and other climate-based problems. Our core values of sustainability, social justice, and ecological wisdom inform every policy we adopt. As part of a global movement, Greens collaborate, innovate, and share best practices with parties from all over the planet. Canada has had more than enough climate change denial and vague talking points from governments, past and present. Canadians need an alternative to bring effective ideas to the table. The Green Party is it.
—Jeremy Leite, co-president.
University of Ottawa NDP
As co-presidents of the University of Ottawa NDP club, one of the strongest reasons we mutually decided to take out memberships with this party are its strong, tangible commitments to the environment and environmental justice.
To address climate change, the best possible immediate solution we yearn for is that our governments honour the environmental commitments they made to get elected. On December 12, 2015, Canada stood passionately with numerous countries to commit to the Paris Agreement. Although the Paris Agreement’s language is vague enough that a country can personalize to best suit their situation; we both hold that Canada must do more in terms of its commitments to the Paris Agreement.
In many ways, the partisanship, rivalry, and selfishness of the Canadian political system must be overcome if our country is ever to make meaningful solutions to addressing climate change. Climate change and our environment needs more than the four-year term that encompasses a Prime Minister’s.
For the most up to date policy reasons, we think the NDP has the best plan for Canadians in the “Green Economy and Climate Agenda” Jagmeet Singh campaigned on during his bid for leader. We think it is important that our political leaders leave their environmental policy out in the open to allow voters to easily make an educated vote.
The new NDP leader has committed to reduce carbon emissions to 30 per cent of 2005 levels by 2025 rather than 2030, and to subsequently adopt a more ambitious 2030 target. The NDP under Singh’s leadership is going to do this through a nationwide public transit strategy, supporting provinces with phasing out coal, reducing methane emissions, and supporting electric vehicles. These are only a few examples of ways the NDP is best set with a policy platform and politicians that are real about climate change.
—Danielle Kydd and Matthew Boulden, co-presidents.
University of Ottawa Young Liberals
We’re already seeing the effects of climate change across the world—the hurricanes that tore through the Caribbean are the most recent example of unusually severe natural disasters, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Canada has the opportunity to be a leader on the world stage for environmental protection, and we need to make sure that we are taking action for the future of our children and grandchildren.
The Liberal Party of Canada understands that the future for our youth will be extremely challenging if we don’t act now. Our generation shouldn’t have to pay for the effects of the pollution made by previous generations. We deserve a clean and healthy environment.
For the past decade there has been no federal leadership on tackling carbon pollution, and we must act now in order to preserve our planet. Addressing climate change also offers an enormous economic opportunity for Canada—an opportunity that, if we seize it, will create well-paying middle class jobs for Canadians and a strong and thriving economy.
The Liberal government ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016 with countries around the world to reduce carbon pollution, and created a made-in-Canada plan to fight climate change and transition to a clean growth economy.
The government has also announced a $25-billion investment to help public transportation systems go green over the next decade, a $1.2-billion investment to grow our clean technology sector, and a commitment to reduce emissions from government operations by 40 per cent by 2030. This is just to name a few of the steps the Liberal government is taking to protect our environment.
—Hannah Wieler, chief officer.
University of Ottawa Campus Conservatives
Conservatives are dedicated to protecting our environment and the countless natural wonders we are privileged to share.
It was the previous federal Conservative government that set ambitious targets on greenhouse gas emissions, targets the current Liberal government has since adopted. We also took real, concrete actions that were environmentally and economically responsible without losing good Canadian jobs.
This included setting stringent standards to cut pollution from on-road vehicles and reduce methane emissions in the oil-and-gas sector, investing more than $10 billion in technologies to promote innovation and emissions reductions, and many other policies that increased environmental protections, particularly in vulnerable habitats.
Conservatives support market driven solutions to create more renewable energy in Canada and to develop new and innovative methods to protect our environment. Conservatives also recognize that the government needs to work with Canada’s international partners to reduce carbon emissions and climate change around the globe.
—Michael Giesbrecht, president.