Where the Liberals stand on a Green New Deal

Top Line: On September 24th, the Liberals announced a new climate platform for the 2019 election. With it, they launched a new ad where Justin Trudeau sums the plan up perfectly, telling the camera “we need to do more”.

Photo Credit: Claire Foran

Listening to the science

    • Liberal candidates love to talk about listening to climate science and the IPCC report, but during their last four years in office, Liberal climate policy fell far short of what the science demands. That’s why it was good to see the Liberals announce plans to exceed their 2030 climate target and get to net-zero emissions by 2050. But, good isn’t good enough, since the 2030 pledge is a vague paper promise, and the 2050 target may not be enough to line up with a 1.5ºC warming limit
    • This is important, since in 2015, they adopted the woefully low 2030 target set by Stephen Harper, locked in that target as our global commitment, and then proceeded to put us on track to miss that target by nearly 90MT of carbon emissions. But, their updated climate platform has no real details about how deep their 2030 emissions cuts will be, or how they will achieve any of these ramped goals. And, that’s not small problem since, according to some analysis, it’ll take 200+ years for the current Liberal climate plan to get us close to the emissions cuts that science demands.
    • It’s clear that the Liberals are feeling the pressure to increase their climate ambition. And while phasing out coal fired electricity remains a good step forwards from the past four years, this plan doesn’t really close the gap between their climate rhetoric and their climate action. And, the lack of a detailed plan around how they’ll line up emissions with what the science demands is made harder to swallow when you remember that last June,  they voted to declare a climate emergency one day, then turned around and approved the climate-wrecking TransMountain pipeline the next. 

Creating millions of good jobs

    • The Liberal climate platform does include a promise to pass a “Just Transition Act, giving workers access to the training, support, and new opportunities needed to succeed in the future economy”. But, what this means is anyone’s guess, since the Liberals offered no real details for what might make up this plan.
    • During the past for years, the Liberals haven’t offered much in the way of big green jobs policies. They funded a number of laudable transit projects across the country, but otherwise, their big promise for creating jobs in a just transition has been tied to approving massive fossil fuel projects like the TransMountain pipeline, with Justin Trudeau effectively arguing that our only path away from fossil fuels is to put more people to work extracting and shipping fossil fuels.
    • One bright spot for the Liberals was the Just Transition Task Force created to support workers and communities impacted by their coal phase-out. But, the scope of that task force was limited, and it fell short of the kind of ambitious, just transition we need to reach 100% renewable energy for all. It remains to be seen if the Just Transition Act would build on this work or not. 

Dignity, justice & equity for all

    • Justin Trudeau talks a big game about social justice, but linking climate action to tackling social and economic policy hasn’t been a priority for the Liberals while in government. Their cornerstone climate policy is a carbon tax that, like many of their climate policies, has major loopholes for big polluters and wealthy corporations. Their plans haven’t included much in the way of policy to support climate migrants or communities facing the frontline impacts of climate change.
    • That being said, the Liberals have made some promises on this front, including pledging to implement a pharmacare program.

Respecting Indigenous rights & sovereignty

    • The Liberals also talk a big game when it comes to respecting Indigenous rights. But when the rubber hits the road, they leave a lot to be desired. While the Liberals claim to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and they voted for Bill 262 – the private member’s bill that would have embedded UNDRIP into Canadian law – they also like to pick and choose their own definition of Free Prior and Informed Consent. It’s particularly noticeable when it comes to their decisions to approve massive fossil fuel projects like the TransMountain pipeline despite the objections of numerous Indigenous nations.
    • On top of this, Trudeau campaigned in 2015 with a promise to end 105 boil water advisories on First Nations reserves but as of early 2019, 62 long-term boil water advisories remained in effect.

This post is part of a 4-part series that looks at how party platforms stack up against a Green New Deal. To see our four pillars of a Green New Deal and analysis of party platforms, click here.