Environmental groups slam Stephen Harper’s platform over climate change and tar sands
Western Canadian environmental groups have criticized the Conservative campaign platform for falling short on key issues like climate change and the oilsands.
B.C. Sustainable Energy Association president Guy Dauncey said he was appalled the Conservatives made only a one-year commitment to extending a popular home-retrofit program.
Dauncey said the ecoEnergy Retrofit program helps create green jobs, reduce energy prices, and contributes to greenhouse-gas reductions.
“This now is telling me they have absolutely zero commitment to this program. They’re going to cancel it as soon as one year is over,” he told the Straight by phone.
Dauncey also criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government for providing tax breaks and subsidies to the oil and gas industry, saying that support should be eliminated.
“They’re subsidizing the past instead of the future,” he said. “It’s showing a complete disregard for our children, for the future of Canada, for where we’re going, and it’s investing in the old technologies that we need to phase out.”
Greenpeace Canada’s B.C. director Stephanie Goodwin said the Conservative platform is silent on the issue of oil tankers in B.C. coastal waters.
“The other parties are dealing with it. It just means that the Harper government is relatively out of touch with what’s important to British Columbians,” Goodwin told the Straight by phone.
Goodwin criticized a promise aimed at cutting bureaucratic red tape that would see an existing government regulation eliminated for every new one proposed.
“We don’t believe that’s going to end up becoming a real winner for the environment in the end, having that kind of blanket rule,” she said.
“Simply having a one-for-one rule really is a cookie-cutter approach for a country that is much too large for a cookie-cutter rule.”
The Pembina Institute criticized the platform over renewable energy, climate change, oilsands development, and sustainable transportation.
“When we think of what’s important to get Canada on the path to a clean energy future we think there’s really significant gaps in the Conservative platform,” said the organization’s executive director, Ed Whittingham.
Whittingham argued the platform falls short on addressing climate change.
“On climate change I think we’re missing what should be the key plank to any climate-change platform and that is some commitment to carbon pricing, whether it be through a carbon tax or whether it be through cap and trade,” he told the Straight by phone.
Whittingham said the platform ignores the Alberta oilsands, saying there is need for a commitment to address the speed and scale of development.
“When you look at the production projections, really, it’s hard to imagine us improving environmental management in the area while allowing that degree of increasing growth,” he said.
Released April 8, the Conservative platform touts government actions to address climate change and protect the environment.
It highlights investment in research on clean energy, work with the United States to tackle climate change, and a goal to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 17 percent from levels seen in 2005 by 2020.
The Conservatives also commit to supporting “economically viable” clean-energy projects that help provinces and other regions move away from the use of fossil fuels, according to the platform.