No political party managed to get a majority in this federal election but Canadians overwhelmingly voted for stronger climate action.
According to the preliminary data from Elections Canada, almost 60 per cent of voters cast their ballot for parties that pledged stronger climate targets.
Cathy Orlando, program director at Citizens’ Climate International says this bodes well for strong climate action and cooperation.
“The Liberals did not secure a majority government, but the climate emergency did,” Orlando says.
The Liberals will form a minority government after getting 32.6 per cent of the votes.
Other parties pledging stronger climate targets as compared to the Paris targets such as the NDP, the Green Party and the Bloc Québécois received 17.8 per cent, 2.3 per cent and 7.7 per cent of the votes respectively.
Orlando says the minimal change in terms of seats in the parliament from the previous election is a good sign and it will force the politicians to cooperate.
The Liberal climate plan was appreciated by many activists and experts including Orlando.
She says now is the right time to put politics aside and think beyond 2030 in terms of achieving a net-zero economy.
“We are in a climate emergency,” Orlando says. “We are facing massive deaths if we don’t get this right.”
This November, world leaders will gather in Glasgow, Scotland for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26.
Previously at COP21 — the Paris climate change conference — in 2015, Canada pledged to cut 30 per cent of its carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Before the elections in July, Canada upped its intermediate 2030 targets to 40 to 45 per cent reduction of 2005 levels. However, Canada made no revisions to the net-zero targets.
Orlando says COP26 is the perfect time for Canada to push hard on climate action.
“We need to give our members of parliament the courage to take to their leaders in the various parties to go to COP(26) and be ambitious,” she says.
According to Climate Action Tracker’s assessment, if Canada successfully implements all of the plans announced in 2021 Budget, it would go a “long way to closing the ambition gap”, meaning it would achieve the Paris agreement’s target.
The Climate Action Tracker estimates Canada has “missed its 2020 target, even with the pandemic emissions drop.”
Orlando believes Liberals can build upon their existing climate plan to cut the carbon emissions more effectively by strengthening the carbon pricing policy, having border carbon adjustments and many other such measures.
She says the government needs to make sure these plans are costed so they don’t cost the taxpayer too much money.
Along with the policies Orlando also wants serious public education and to minimize the effect of partisan politics on the issue.
“I think we need to look to the United Kingdom,” Orlando says. “They took climate change out of partisan hands. They’ve really put it over into an expert panel that reports back to the parliament.”