As election mania heats up in Canada, it is becoming
increasingly important to analyze and contrast how the three
front-running parties, the Conservatives, the Liberals and the NDP,
intend to deal with key electoral issues. Two of such issues
involve the economy and the environment, of which energy, and
specifically carbon emissions, make up a fundamental piece. In
response, each party has released its own platform aimed at
tackling carbon emissions in an effort to fight climate change.
When questioned, each party gives the impression that its own
policy represents the best balance between economic stability and
curbing emissions and to vote for any other platform would ensure
economic collapse on one end, or environmental destruction on the
other. However, a closer look at each policy actually reveals more
similarities than differences. Obviously, more useful and relevant
than campaign policies and promises will be examining what the
successful party (assuming a majority government) or parties (in
the event of a minority coalition) implement after the election is
complete. We will return to this topic after the election to
examine where policies and promises diverge in practice.
The Conservatives have set a carbon emissions target of 30%
below 2005 values by 2030, the NDP have committed to an emissions
reduction target of 34% below 1990 levels by 2025 and the Liberals,
while promising to put a price on carbon, have declined to provide
a firm reduction target. On its face, each platform appears to be
unique, but, as always, the devil is in the details. The
Conservative stance, which has received significant criticism from
the Liberals, the NDP and environmentalists alike, has been and
will continue to be, total reliance on provincially implemented
carbon reduction programs. This closely mirrors the approach taken
by the Conservatives when they overhauled the Canadian
Environmental Assessment Act in 2012. In
contrast, the NDP have promised to implement a national
cap-and-trade program, but they too will allow for a provincial opt
out, provided that the provincial guidelines meet or exceed the
federal requirements. The Liberals, falling somewhere in the
middle, intend to implement a federal emissions target, but will
leave the implementation on how to achieve this target up to the
individual provinces. In other words, each party's carbon
emissions platform either allows for, or encourages, most of the
heavy lifting to be done by the provinces. In fact, the federally
weighted NDP plan recently came under fire from the NDP's very
own Rachel Notley, the premier of Alberta, who stated that a
national regime may not fit well with the diverse nature of the
With each of the three parties garnering approximately one third
of the popular vote (based on present day polling), it remains to
be seen what will occur on Election Day. However, no matter the
result of the federal election, the future of Canada's
emissions policy will be left, at least partly, in the hands of the
provinces. Wasting no time, British Columbia and Quebec have
already implemented plans of their own, while Ontario and Alberta,
are following in their footsteps. This onset of emissions
regulation means that businesses and governments must start
accounting for carbon output and the associated flow through costs
throughout their strategic planning processes. Many businesses have
done just that already. Former Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney
recently warned that a high price on carbon could render many
fossil fuel reserves unburnable. These "stranded assets"
could have a debilitating effect on many resource firms, which can
have a ripple effect throughout the Canadian economy at large.
While it is our impression that climate change policies and
promises have not yet taken centre stage during this election
campaign, the December UN talks in Paris, and bilateral initiatives
recently announced between China and U.S.A., mean that climate
change and carbon policy will inevitably be on the top of the the
international agenda and any future federal government of Canada,
together with the provinces, will need to tackle this
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Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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