For the first time in its history, the Conservative Party of Canada has released a credible and realistically employable climate action plan – and they did it prior to an election being called. After years of railing against a carbon tax, the Conservatives have finally made headway towards reclaiming the pricing mechanism as a principally conservative method in curbing environmental degradation.
While quite substantial in its entirety, the key ticket item from the Conservative climate plan is the proposal of “Low Carbon Savings Accounts” to replace the traditional carbon tax that the Liberals are running on. Whereas the carbon tax takes cash from Canadians to be funnelled throughout the big government system in Ottawa, low carbon savings accounts simply direct Canadians to invest in green and sustainable products, not only de-incentivizing carbon spending, but also stimulating the green economy.
In simpler terms, the Conservatives are proposing that for each purchase of hydrocarbon-based fuel, Canadians will pay into their individually owned and operated savings account, through which they will then be able to invest in green and sustainable assets. Some of these green products to be purchased through the savings accounts may include public transit passes, bicycles, energy efficient home upgrades, or even electric vehicles, among other products. This plan effectively uses pricing strategies to stipulate monetary deterrence to using carbon fuels, while simultaneously redirecting natural purchasing practices to support a growing domestic green economy.
In addition to the low carbon savings accounts for individuals, Canada’s Conservatives are committing to a mandate that would see 30% of light duty vehicles sold to be zero emissions by 2030. To substantiate the focus on electric vehicles, O’Toole is also committing to major investments in electric transmission technologies and grid upgrades, electric vehicle and parts manufacturing capacity in Canada, and deploying hydrogen based technologies as another sustainable alternative to carbon based fuel. Also on the continental level, the Conservative Party is making a resolute point to coordinate with the United States and with the current Biden administration on electric vehicle standards. The fact of the matter is that when the United States and Canada are on the same page, both nations thrive, and this is precisely the case in regard to sustainable innovations and green transport.
By collaborating with the other western powers like the United States and the European Union on carbon pricing, Canada can position itself among the most ethical and sustainably productive economies in the world without sacrificing jobs and capital. On another front, a united stance on carbon pricing will put significant pressure on unethical and unsustainable economies like China that continue to threaten the global efforts toward achieving ambitious climate targets and ethical employment standards.
Further, the Conservatives’ climate strategy puts heavy emphasis on the implementation of innovative technologies whose positive impacts are backed by science. Of these, carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), and carbon sequestration represent the key pillars of the platform. Because there exist some industries like energy and petrochemicals that will continue to depend directly on fossil fuels, CCUS technologies will be promoted for implementation in these industries in order to minimize emissions while maximizing the utility of each unit of carbon. Similarly, carbon sequestration captures carbon emissions from productive practices in a natural manner before they can harm the atmosphere or surrounding environment, allowing for its safe and productive reuse. Both of these strategies are particularly useful in targeting the sustainable and productive development of Canada’s agriculture industry. Using these technologies, Canadian farmers will be able to affordably and sustainably maximize their production while giving them the ability to tap into land-based offset credit for land management and protection.
The Conservatives’ comprehensive climate plan clearly puts forth a plan to address not only the current climate setbacks being experienced globally, but also introduces proactive strategies to maintain and protect Canada’s environmental assets. Moving forward from a political standpoint, this climate platform represents a turning point for the Conservative Party, and while fractions of the party’s base may be wary of its effects, there is no doubt that the plan brings the party back into relevance at a moment when many were at the brink of dismissing its compatibility with Canadians. However, ambitious climate action has already transitioned from a political issue to a universal one, and thus while this platform doesn’t elevate the Conservatives’ electoral floor, it brings the party back into a degree of contention for suburban and urban voters.