4 Justin Trudeau Campaign Promises That Could Make Canada a Green Powerhouse
Polls are in and Canadians across the country are expressing surprise at the strong win for the federal Liberal party.
While there’s much ink to be spilled over former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s reign, he’s likely locked in a bathroom now, so we’ll save that for another, less change-y time.
Canadian broadcaster CBC projects a new Liberal government with Justin Trudeau as PM. LIVE: https://t.co/J09k5rcQwM https://t.co/GScmE4vTrC— BBC Breaking News (@BBC Breaking News)1445305940.0
Canada, you have a new Prime Minister. I would say "go home, you’re drunk." But don’t, because you’re not. This is actually happening.
But wait, what is actually happening? We have a new majority government. Before the fun gets away with us, let’s do a quick reality check for what the Liberal party and incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been promising all of you on some of our top DeSmog Canada topics: climate, environment, science and transparency.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals on Climate
On the issue of Canada’s climate commitments for the UN climate summit this fall in Paris, the Liberal platform is underdeveloped. On the campaign trail last week, party leader Justin Trudeau told the CBC he would not commit to specific emissions targets.
“Everybody has thrown out numbers and different targets and what they’re going to do and what is going to happen,” Trudeau said.
“What we need is not ambitious political targets. What we need is an ambitious plan to reduce our emissions in the country.”
The federal Conservative party promised to reduce emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2050, a target that has been roundly criticized as weak. Others have pointed out the Conservative plan made no mention of the Alberta tar sands, the fastest growing source of emissions in Canada.
Although the Liberals don’t have a specific plan yet, the party has promised to establish a new climate change framework by February 2016 that includes an eventual phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies. The plan will also include investment in climate resilience, clean technology and low-carbon infrastructure.
The party will also set aside $2 billion for emissions-reducing projects through a new Low Carbon Economy Trust.
Trudeau has also promised to attend climate negotiations in Paris with all of the premiers and to work with the provinces on emissions reduction plans that are location specific.
Importantly, the Liberals have also promised to work with other countries like Mexico and the U.S. in developing shared clean energy plans.
Liberals on Environment
The Liberal party is promising to undo some of the damage done to Canada’s environmental laws and environmental assessment process for projects like pipelines.
The party promises to establish new, credible reviews for proposed development that are comprehensive and consider full and cumulative impacts, including upstream impacts like development in the tar sands and greenhouse gas emissions.
Their revamped review process promises to be evidence-based and allow for more meaningful participation by the public.
Liberal party candidate Jonathan Wilkinson, who took the North Vancouver riding with 56 percent of the vote, has also promised to scrap the current Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline review in favor of a revitalized process.
Trudeau has voiced his support for pipelines, including the Kinder Morgan and Keystone XL pipelines, but has also acknowledged “even though [it is] governments that grant permits, ultimately it’s only communities that grant permission.”
In that light, the party is also promising to engage more respectfully with First Nations during the consultation process. Considering cumulative impacts around the tar sands has been a major issue for local First Nations. On this note, the Liberals have also promised to immediately implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—something that will alter the manner in which First Nations are approached and consulted on major energy projects.
Since 2012, the Conservative party has weakened and eliminated many of Canada’s strongest environmental laws, including the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Act.
The Liberals have promised to review changes to both of these acts, re-instate what was removed from them and possibly increase protections where warranted.
Significantly for British Columbia, the Liberal party has promised a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on the province’s north coast.
Liberals on Science
The Liberal party has taken a strong stance on the war on science in Canada, promising to free scientists to speak publicly about their work.
Trudeau has also promised to instate a Parliamentary Science Officer to ensure transparency, expertise and independence of federal scientists. This position will mirror that of the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
In addition to unmuzzling scientists, the party also wants to work collaboratively with the provinces, First Nations and other stakeholders when it comes to ocean management.
Busy morning? Here's what you need to know to start your day. https://t.co/7Jv5b3dAmq https://t.co/865vM1rCug— The New York Times (@The New York Times)1445343010.0
This is significant in light of the Conservative government’s defunding of numerous marine science programs, including the only research being conducted into the effects of industrial pollutants on marine mammals. The Liberal party has promised to reinstate $40 million of funding for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The Liberals plan on incorporating more science into federal environmental assessments, including the consideration of climate change and environmental impacts of tar sands development on pipeline projects. Under the Conservatives, both emissions and environmental impacts of tar sands were considered "outside the relevant scope" of pipeline reviews.
The federal Conservatives also fought against First Nations and conservation groups regarding the Species at Risk Act and its implication for major projects like tar sands mines or pipelines.
The Liberal party has promised to respond more quickly and more scientifically to the issue of at-risk species. This means species will be listed faster and mandatory timelines will be put in place for species once they are listed as at-risk.
A new version of the Species at Risk Act is already on the Liberal’s environmental plan.
Liberals on Transparency
When it comes to dealing with media, Trudeau has promised to have a much more open and transparent relationship with journalists.
Through its Transparency Act, the party has promised to make access to information much easier for Canadians, including making all government documents freely available online.
The Access to Information Act will be amended to make information "Open by Default," that is, more easily available to the public, on quicker timelines and for less money.
Current requests under the act cost $5 per request but may be subject to additional fees if the request is large or requires a lot of time. The amended act will limit the possible fee to the initial $5 charge.
In addition, the act will be reviewed every five years and expanded to include the Prime Minister’s Office, which is usually exempt from disclosure rules.
Trudeau has also promised to repeal certain elements of the Conservative’s controversial anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51.
Former Prime Ministers, national editorial boards, tech experts, legal scholars, civil society organizations, democracy watchdogs and droves of citizens opposed the bill, saying it undermined the democratic rights of Canadians.
Many were outraged at the Liberals’ decision to support it.
Trudeau has promised to “take a constructive approach to improving the bill,” including instituting greater oversight of Canada’s national security agencies and establishing an “all-party committee of Parliamentarians, to provide oversight of various agencies, including CSIS, CSE, the RCMP and DND.”
No matter what, Canadians are in for a real shake-up under this new leadership. Reuters is reporting Justin Trudeau will bring “glamour, youth and charisma” to Ottawa in the dawning of this new age. I'll reserve that kind of cheer for another moment. For now, I'll just say the Liberal party certainly has their work cut out for them.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge
In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.
The Good and Bad News<p><span>Ecosystems consist of living and non-living components, and their interactions. They work like a super-complex engine: when some components are removed or stop working, knock-on consequences can lead to system failure.</span></p><p>Our study is based on measured data and observations, not modeling or predictions for the future. Encouragingly, not all ecosystems we examined have collapsed across their entire range. We still have, for instance, some intact reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in deeper waters. And northern Australia has some of the most intact and least-modified stretches of savanna woodlands on Earth.</p><p><span>Still, collapses are happening, including in regions critical for growing food. This includes the </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/importance-murray-darling-basin/where-basin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Murray-Darling Basin</a><span>, which covers around 14% of Australia's landmass. Its rivers and other freshwater systems support more than </span><a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/ab[email protected]/latestproducts/94F2007584736094CA2574A50014B1B6?opendocument" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30% of Australia's food</a><span> production.</span></p><p><span></span><span>The effects of floods, fires, heatwaves and storms do not stop at farm gates; they're felt equally in agricultural areas and natural ecosystems. We shouldn't forget how towns ran out of </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/issues-murray-darling-basin/drought#effects" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">drinking water</a><span> during the recent drought.</span></p><p><span></span><span>Drinking water is also at risk when ecosystems collapse in our water catchments. In Victoria, for example, the degradation of giant </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/logging-must-stop-in-melbournes-biggest-water-supply-catchment-106922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mountain Ash forests</a><span> greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the Thompson catchment, threatening nearly five million people's drinking water in Melbourne.</span></p><p>This is a dire <em data-redactor-tag="em">wake-up</em> call — not just a <em data-redactor-tag="em">warning</em>. Put bluntly, current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival, and other life we share environments with.</p><p><span>In investigating patterns of collapse, we found most ecosystems experience multiple, concurrent pressures from both global climate change and regional human impacts (such as land clearing). Pressures are often </span><a href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2664.13427" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">additive and extreme</a><span>.</span></p><p>Take the last 11 years in Western Australia as an example.</p><p>In the summer of 2010 and 2011, a <a href="https://theconversation.com/marine-heatwaves-are-getting-hotter-lasting-longer-and-doing-more-damage-95637" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">heatwave</a> spanning more than 300,000 square kilometers ravaged both marine and land ecosystems. The extreme heat devastated forests and woodlands, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. This catastrophe was followed by two cyclones.</p><p>A record-breaking, marine heatwave in late 2019 dealt a further blow. And another marine heatwave is predicted for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/24/wa-coastline-facing-marine-heatwave-in-early-2021-csiro-predicts" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this April</a>.</p>
What to Do About It?<p><span>Our brains trust comprises 38 experts from 21 universities, CSIRO and the federal Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. Beyond quantifying and reporting more doom and gloom, we asked the question: what can be done?</span></p><p>We devised a simple but tractable scheme called the 3As:</p><ul><li>Awareness of what is important</li><li>Anticipation of what is coming down the line</li><li>Action to stop the pressures or deal with impacts.</li></ul><p>In our paper, we identify positive actions to help protect or restore ecosystems. Many are already happening. In some cases, ecosystems might be better left to recover by themselves, such as coral after a cyclone.</p><p>In other cases, active human intervention will be required – for example, placing artificial nesting boxes for Carnaby's black cockatoos in areas where old trees have been <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/factsheet-carnabys-black-cockatoo-calyptorhynchus-latirostris" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">removed</a>.</p><p><span>"Future-ready" actions are also vital. This includes reinstating </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/a-burning-question-fire/12395700" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultural burning practices</a><span>, which have </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-you-have-unfinished-business-its-time-to-let-our-fire-people-care-for-this-land-135196" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">multiple values and benefits for Aboriginal communities</a><span> and can help minimize the risk and strength of bushfires.</span></p><p>It might also include replanting banks along the Murray River with species better suited to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/my-garden-path---matt-hansen/12322978" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warmer conditions</a>.</p><p>Some actions may be small and localized, but have substantial positive benefits.</p><p>For example, billions of migrating Bogong moths, the main summer food for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums, have not arrived in their typical numbers in Australian alpine regions in recent years. This was further exacerbated by the <a href="https://theconversation.com/six-million-hectares-of-threatened-species-habitat-up-in-smoke-129438" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019-20</a> fires. Brilliantly, <a href="https://www.zoo.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zoos Victoria</a> anticipated this pressure and developed supplementary food — <a href="https://theconversation.com/looks-like-an-anzac-biscuit-tastes-like-a-protein-bar-bogong-bikkies-help-mountain-pygmy-possums-after-fire-131045" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bogong bikkies</a>.</p><p><span>Other more challenging, global or large-scale actions must address the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iICpI9H0GkU&t=34s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">root cause of environmental threats</a><span>, such as </span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0504-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">human population growth and per-capita consumption</a><span> of environmental resources.</span><br></p><p>We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, remove or suppress invasive species such as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mam.12080" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">feral cats</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-buffel-kerfuffle-how-one-species-quietly-destroys-native-wildlife-and-cultural-sites-in-arid-australia-149456" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">buffel grass</a>, and stop widespread <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-reduce-fire-risk-and-meet-climate-targets-over-300-scientists-call-for-stronger-land-clearing-laws-113172" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">land clearing</a> and other forms of habitat destruction.</p>
Our Lives Depend On It<p>The multiple ecosystem collapses we have documented in Australia are a harbinger for <a href="https://www.iucn.org/news/protected-areas/202102/natures-future-our-future-world-speaks" target="_blank">environments globally</a>.</p><p>The simplicity of the 3As is to show people <em>can</em> do something positive, either at the local level of a landcare group, or at the level of government departments and conservation agencies.</p><p>Our lives and those of our <a href="https://theconversation.com/children-are-our-future-and-the-planets-heres-how-you-can-teach-them-to-take-care-of-it-113759" target="_blank">children</a>, as well as our <a href="https://theconversation.com/taking-care-of-business-the-private-sector-is-waking-up-to-natures-value-153786" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">economies</a>, societies and <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-address-the-ecological-crisis-aboriginal-peoples-must-be-restored-as-custodians-of-country-108594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultures</a>, depend on it.</p><p>We simply cannot afford any further delay.</p><p><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dana-m-bergstrom-1008495" target="_blank" style="">Dana M Bergstrom</a> is a principal research scientist at the University of Wollongong. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/euan-ritchie-735" target="_blank" style="">Euan Ritchie</a> is a professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences at Deakin University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lesley-hughes-5823" target="_blank">Lesley Hughes</a> is a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-depledge-114659" target="_blank">Michael Depledge</a> is a professor and chair, Environment and Human Health, at the University of Exeter. </em></p><p><em>Disclosure statements: Dana Bergstrom works for the Australian Antarctic Division and is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Wollongong. Her research including fieldwork on Macquarie Island and in Antarctica was supported by the Australian Antarctic Division.</em></p><p><em>Euan Ritchie receives funding from the Australian Research Council, The Australia and Pacific Science Foundation, Australian Geographic, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. Euan Ritchie is a Director (Media Working Group) of the Ecological Society of Australia, and a member of the Australian Mammal Society.</em></p><p><em>Lesley Hughes receives funding from the Australian Research Council. She is a Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and a Director of WWF-Australia.</em></p><p><em>Michael Depledge does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/existential-threat-to-our-survival-see-the-19-australian-ecosystems-already-collapsing-154077" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
- Coral Reef Tipping Point: 'Near-Annual' Bleaching May Occur ... ›
- Scientists Warn Humanity in Denial of Looming 'Collapse of ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.
A new EarthxTV film special calls for the protection of the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous people that call it home. EarthxTV.org
- Meet the 'Women Warriors' Protecting the Amazon Forest - EcoWatch ›
- Indigenous Tribes Are Using Drones to Protect the Amazon ... ›
- Amazon Rainforest Will Collapse by 2064, New Study Predicts ... ›
- Deforestation in Amazon Skyrockets to 12-Year High Under Bolsonaro ›
- Amazon Rainforest on the Brink of Turning Into a Net Carbon Emitter ... ›
By Anke Rasper
"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.
- World Leaders Fall Short of Meeting Paris Agreement Goal - EcoWatch ›
- UN Climate Change Conference COP26 Delayed to November ... ›
- 5 Years After Paris: How Countries' Climate Policies Match up to ... ›
- Biden Win Puts World 'Within Striking Distance' of 1.5 C Paris Goal ... ›
- Biden Reaffirms Commitment to Rejoining Paris Agreement ... ›
India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?
- This Indian Startup Turns Polluted Air Into Climate-Friendly Tiles ... ›
- How to Win the Fight Against Plastic - EcoWatch ›
In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
- Appalachian Fracking Boom Was a Jobs Bust, Finds New Report ... ›
- Long-Awaited EPA Study Says Fracking Pollutes Drinking Water ... ›
- Pennsylvania Fracking Water Contamination Much Higher Than ... ›