Conservatives back Harper’s 2030 emissions target

OTTAWA – Canada’s Conservatives continue to reject the Liberal government’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, as the party searches for a new leader who will decide its approach themselves to tackle climate change.

On Tuesday, the federal government released a plan for how it hopes to meet its latest goal, which is to cut carbon-related pollution by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by the end of the decade. .

Tory environmental critic Kyle Seeback says the party does not support that plan. Instead, it backs the goal set by the Conservative government in 2015 under the leadership of former prime minister Stephen Harper.

When he came to power later that year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed off on the plan, committing under the Paris agreement to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Last year, Trudeau increased those targets ahead of international climate talks in the fall, saying Canada now sets a target 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels.

“It’s great to plan things and hope for things,” Seeback said Tuesday. “What we need (are) actual plans that lead to emissions reductions, and what we’re getting from this government are plans that cost a lot of money.”

He pointed out that the Liberals had fallen short of climate targets in the past and dismissed the plan presented Tuesday for lack of detail on the impact of the cuts on industries based on climate change. resources and taxpayers.

“I’m all for aspirational things, but in the end what we need are plans that really work and don’t have incredibly catastrophic effects on the Canadian economy.”

Conservative leadership candidates will need to pitch their ideas about the country’s approach to climate change as they compete for the party’s top job. The new leader will be announced on September 10.

Much of the party’s support comes from western Canada, where oil-producing provinces want to ensure the industry’s survival. At the same time, the Tories have also faced criticism that they did not come up with a plan to properly address climate change during the 2019 federal election campaign.

The contenders started the first weeks of the current race by championing a rallying movement from 2019 that remains popular with the establishment: a promise of a carbon discount.

That’s what many members were excited to hear after former leader Erin O’Toole promised a carbon price of her own in an attempt to correct mistakes in the most recent election.

Ottawa area MP Pierre Poilievre drummed that battle and plans to hold a rally in the nation’s capital on Friday against a scheduled increase in the federal fee, which is expected to have effective on that date.

Poilievre did not directly respond when asked if he supported the current government’s 2030 goals, but in a statement Tuesday said Trudeau would “boost domestic energy prices and production oil abroad.”

He is campaigning on a promise to build more pipelines and end Canada’s oil imports from abroad. When it comes to fighting climate change, he vowed to reduce emissions through “technology, not taxes”.

“These technologies include carbon capture, zero-emission nuclear power, and helping other countries shut down thermal power plants by exporting natural gas, nuclear power and hydroelectricity,” Poilievre said. cleaner”.

In a separate statement, Michelle Coates Mather, a spokeswoman for Jean Charest – the former prime minister of Quebec who introduced the cap and trade system to that province – said he would roll out his plan on the environment. in the “next few weeks”.

“Mr Charest agrees with emissions reductions,” she wrote, adding that he was the only candidate “with a track record of emissions and pollution cuts.”

Since entering the race, Charest has expressed support for carbon pricing, but has so far declined to say when he advocates a price for consumer goods, like fuel.

On Tuesday, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown also ignored a question about his support for Canada’s 2030 goals. He tweeted that Ottawa should abandon its federal carbon pricing plan and pledged to make sure the Conservatives have a climate plan that protects the energy industry and taxpayers.

Scott Aitchison, an Ontario rural MP who is running for leadership, said in a statement that he supported “the initial commitments in Paris” and believed in the need to build the infrastructure of the country. country to the impact of climate change to reduce costs.

This Canadian Press report was first published on March 29, 2022

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