The election is over and climate has won. But what does it mean for Canada?


The climate elections

As I wrote at the beginning of last week’s Clean Energy Review, “when it comes to climate change and the clean energy sector, this election could be pivotal.” A week later, the Liberals have a minority government that can govern with the support of other pro-climate parties, and there’s no doubt that climate was on voters’ minds when they made the decision.

Canadians want climate action. If it wasn’t already clear before this election, it certainly is now. Ultimately, being a climate laggard won’t get you enough Xs on the ballot. And as I told the Star, hopefully this will be the last election where whether to go forward or backward on climate change is a significant issue. 

The election is a “victory for the planet”

Such were the words of a Washington Post piece about the election outcome. In fact, the result broke a long and international spell of carbon pricing equalling election disaster. And now there are rumblings from our neighbours south of the border, who are deciding what this could mean for their election next year, where climate change is also very much on the ballot. 

Change is coming

Indeed there are a multitude of reasons why this election was dubbed the “climate change election.” And one of those was children. The record-breaking climate strikes, coupled with Greta Thunberg’s visits to Canada over the last few months ensured that climate stayed in the political conversation. And as Thunberg said on Friday at the strike in Vancouver, “This is just the beginning. We will continue. Because change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

The price of carbon policy

In the wake of the election results, now could be the time for Conservative leadership to listen to Thunberg’s words. Especially when it comes to the most divisive of policies—the carbon price. Last week, 63.2% of Canadian voters chose a party that supports a carbon price. But the question remains, will the Conservative Party now adapt its stance on the carbon-cutting policy? Or will it still promise to scrap a policy that the Canadian people (by some measure) chose to keep?

A difference of opinion

Some Conservative leaders are already responding. In light of significant Liberal gains in New Brunswick, the province’s Conservative premier, Blaine Higgs, said New Brunswick will create its own carbon price that will comply with the federal regulations. In his words, "people voted for it, so we have to find a way in New Brunswick to make it work." In Ontario meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford has said he will plough on with his government’s $30-million carbon price legal challenge, despite previously saying he would drop it if the Liberals won.

So now what?

While Canadians concerned about climate could breathe a little easier last week, the battle is far from over. Now comes the hard part—voters said they want climate action, now the government needs to deliver it. And there are some serious potholes to swerve. As this National Observer piece warns, the nemesis of victory is “factionalism and triumphalism” (click here for more). With some saying the country is more divided than ever, it remains to be seen if the current climate action approach has made it through the “heaviest sledding” (as this Globe and Mail op-ed suggests), or if it’s only the start of the snow drift. 

Clean Energy Review is sponsored in part by Genus Capital Management, a leading provider of fossil-fuel-free investments. 
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