Q: Canada, B.C. and Kamloops have set myriad emissions targets and have always failed to meet them. Why should voters believe your party’s plan should be the one to embrace? And, is there not an argument for spending energy on adapting to climate change if we cannot avoid the scenarios being presented?
Kira Cheeseborough, Animal Protection Party:
“One of the biggest things with our party’s platform is that we are looking at a lot of issues that we’re experiencing in the country through a lens of climate change.
“One of the big issues is coal and oil industries when you look at greenhouse gases, but there are also issues with deforestation, there’s issues of ocean dead zones, there’s issues of topsoil erosion.
“Though oil and coal industries are definitely one of the biggest contributors, there’s nobody else looking at animal agriculture. That’s where we are looking, as well ...
“We are looking at every single contributor to climate change. We’re not just looking at the top couple ones and sweeping under the rug, ones that have very powerful lobbying group ….
“Dairy is one of the biggest contributors on a global scale to climate change and so is meat production, as well. I do also want to say that even though we are looking at these industries, we also understand that there are families and generations of families that have sustained their livelihood in these industries, so it’s about supporting them and making a transition to something better for the environment, for people’s health and, obviously, better for the animals versus continuing to fund and subsidize these industries ...
“If we can still prevent, we should 100 per cent be putting our energy into doing so. Even with the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report and the global impacts of 1.5 C degrees increase, there is still irreversible damage that is going to come from that and we shouldn’t be taking a reduction stance.
“There is science behind the fact that if people try to go for a larger goal, they’re going to be more successful getting there than if they say they’re just trying to minimize something. There’s going to be less effort and energy into a minimizing effort versus a goal to completely prevent.
“I do think we should strive for complete prevention based on this knowledge.”
Iain Currie, Green Party:
“Elizabeth May and the Green party have been relentlessly consistent and we are the Green party. It is based on sustainability. It is based on environmental concerns.
“Elizabeth May is the only one who has been talking, again, relentlessly about the science. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued reports which we rely on, so it’s the science talking. It’s not the Green party. It’s not Elizabeth May. It’s us repeating the best climate scientists in the world.
“We have never sugarcoated — not one bit — the challenge of the undertaking that we are proposing. It is more politically expedient to talk about the climate crisis as if it was a minor thing, this isn’t going to hurt anybody, we can go about business as usual.
“That is a much more politically palatable, more digestible message. But that’s not the message we’re going to give to voters because it isn’t true. We’ve been science-based. We’ve based our platform on the truth of the issue. The Green party has taken this position even when it was not popular ...
“It’s not a question of spending versus adaptation. We have to do both. Yes, absolutely, we have to adapt. We have to pay more attention to fighting fires, for example, than we would in the past.
“But, we can’t not fight it. Because you can’t adapt to some of the potential consequences of global warming beyond one-and-a-half degrees. You can’t successfully adapt as a civilization if you are facing oceans rising to the levels that are possible at higher temperatures. You can’t adapt as a civilization to forest fires raging out of control. This is an existential threat. …
“We reach a tipping point where the consequences become massively unpredictable. You don’t adapt to a threat to your survival — you fight against it.”
Cynthia Egli, New Democratic Party:
“The New Democratic Party believes that climate change is happening and something drastic needs to happen.
“A New Democratic government will declare a climate emergency and put in place ambitious, science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets.
“The aim is to help stabilize the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees celsius. Our goal is to put targets and legislation and ensure accountability by creating an independent climate accountability office to do regular audits of progress towards our climate goals.
“We need to realize that bold, urgent action needs to happen to confront the climate crisis.
“I’m not willing to go into this thinking we’re just going to adapt and continue on with the same status quo that we’ve been doing.
“Our kids are asking us to do something and I think it starts with viewing it [the issue] as climate justice and doing justice to the climate.
“I went to the climate justice strike last Friday up at TRU and they really believe in reframing it [climate change] to a climate crisis and moving forward looking for climate justice, so it means reframing it to make it an ethical issue not just an issue about actions.
Ken Finlayson, People’s Party:
“We believe in climate change. Absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts.
“We do, however, believe it’s a natural phenomenon. What happens is people confuse climate change with pollution.
“There’s lots of pollution. We’ve got 7.5-billion litres of toxic sewage and chemicals going into the Fraser Delta down in Vancouver and Victoria every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Those are critical problems that need to be acted on right now. It’s kind of like your house is on fire. You need to find a pail of water. Don’t go looking for insurance.
“Instead, we find a lot of climate alarmists that don’t want a pipeline and they’re worried about the potential of a hypothetical disaster that may or may not occur at some unknown date in the future.
“Meanwhile, we’re polluting our waters. The killer whale population is threatened not because there’s some hypothetical disaster that hasn’t happened yet, but because of the ongoing pollution that we’ve been doing for 100 years. That’s what we need to address.”
Finlayson said CO2 is not a pollutant. He called it oxygen for plants, a “perfect symbiotic relationship.
“Guess what? If CO2 is not a pollutant, you know what you don’t need? You don’t need to tax it. It’s not a bad thing.”
Asked about adaptation versus prevention, he said: “Absolutely. When it gets cold, you better find a sweater. That’s how we’ve survived this long, the last 130,000 years — adapting.”
Peter Kerek, Communist Party:
“For one thing, we’re not beholden to corporate interests that fund our party and we’re not even beholden to wealthy individuals that fund our party.
“We struggle to fund our party, but our principles are to put people ahead of profits and to meet people’s needs. Those aren’t really the principles of the other parties. Those parties might say something similar, but their record contradicts that …
“We should be doing both. We should be preparing for climate change because we are just one country, with a small percentage of the globe’s population, but we have no moral authority to pressure other countries to adopt more climate-friendly policies if we’re not doing them ourselves.
“Beyond stopping our own polluting, we can also develop more manufacturing in renewable resource technology. We can do both. We can implement that and be part of a jobs growth program, the retooling of all these closed factories and even sawmills.
“Those factories can be retooled.
“There are factories in the mid-western states where automotive plants were shut down and they’ve been taken over by co-op worker organizations and they’ve turned them into manufacturing of solar panels, for example.
“That type of incentive needs to be created in Canada, rather than incentivizing oil corporations to extract more oil by, for example, purchasing bankrupt pipelines off of them so that they can ship their oil through it without risk of devaluing your pipelines.”
Terry Lake, Liberal Party:
“I think you can do both and we are doing both. As environment minister in British Columbia, there were plans for adaptation as well as mitigation. I think that happens in every plan.
“You have to protect the coastline. For instance, we know with oceans rising and with more severe weather, that communities like Richmond, for instance, need to harden their coastline to prevent damage. So, yes, I think we should be spending money on adaptation to make our infrastructure more resilient to the effects of climate change, like more severe weather.
“We’ve seen the severe thunderstorms we’ve had here and that can overwhelm the stormwater system, so that’s important.
“But, in terms of our party and the plan we’ve put forward, you’ve had environmental economists like Mark Jaccard at Simon Fraser University, like Andrew Leach at the University of Alberta, take a look at all of the parties’ different plans and I would say that the Liberal plan has had good reviews from those experts and I trust their judgment.
“There’s always more that can be done, but I think the plan that we have in place at the moment, with the national price on carbon, with the clean fuel standard that the Conservatives want to get rid of, with the single-use plastics ban and phasing out coal-fire plants quicker than before — all of these will get us very close to the Paris target.
“Now, do we need to keep reviewing and making sure that that’s still possible? Absolutely. I think no government should be resting on its laurels and I think many of us are looking at net-zero emissions by 2050 as the ultimate target that all governments should be looking at. I would say we have a very robust, comprehensive climate action plan — one that is far better in terms of targets and actions compared to the Conservative plan.
“And, compared to the Greens and NDP, it’s more achievable, without causing a dramatic shock to the economy, which would happen under either one of their plans.”
Cathy McLeod, Conservative Party:
“First of all, we believe in technology, not taxes. We believe that the carbon tax, by what all experts say, is hurting affordability, but it’s not high enough to significantly impact behaviour, so it’s not working.
“But we do believe — and there’s many, many examples out there in terms of the opportunities for technology and whether it’s carbon capture in storage or many others — putting a cap on the major industrial emitters and providing incentives for both the research and the implementation of measures that will reduce our carbon emissions is what is actually going to get us to where we need to go.”
Pointing to adaptation as important, McLeod cited diking in places experiencing increased flooding.