NDP Climate Plan - Power to Change - a New Deal for Climate Action and Good Jobs
Dear Mr. Jagmeet Singh,
The New Democratic Party has historically been a political party that has advocated for workers’ rights; a staunch defender of the proletariat, if you will. That is why I read The NDP Climate Plan - Power to Change - a New Deal for Climate Action and Good Jobs Plan and your brief energy plan with such interest. I wanted to know how it would affect me, a middle-class, working Albertan. As a result, Mr. Singh, I have a few questions for you to help me better understand the Plan.
Power to Change is quite ambitious, but it doesn’t appear to be unique or ground-breaking, compared to what has been proposed by other parties. I do appreciate that you have made it easy to understand, and particularly like the timeline you have provided; it gives a nice, succinct summary.
· 2022 - All single-use plastics ban achieved.
· 2025 - All federal government vehicles transitioned to electric.
· 2030 - Canada powered by net carbon-free electricity. 30% of our land, freshwater, and oceans protected. National Building Code updated, and every new building net-zero ready. Municipalities transitioned to fully electric and free public transit. 2030 emission targets reached.
· 2040 - 100% of all new automotive sales are zero-emission vehicles.
· 2050 - All housing stock retrofitted with energy-saving updates saving families $900 a year.
It seems to be rather “in vogue” right now to pick on oil and gas companies. As a female who works in the industry, I find it rather disheartening how you and your Party continue to attack it and make inaccurate accusations. You seem to have an impression that everyone in the industry is walking around with bags of money, hell-bent on destroying the planet. This stereotype is misguided and untrue; therefore, I am concerned about my job and the impact of your Plan, so I hope that you will take some time to alleviate these concerns by responding to my questions.
Although it is rather miniscule in terms of detail, what appears to be your “energy policy” (rather than your climate policy, which I believe to be two very different concepts requiring different approaches and policies), sets a target to power Canada with net-carbon free electricity by 2030 with a move to non-emitting electricity by 2050. You propose to do this by creating the “Canadian Climate Bank” to provide capital investment in renewable energy sources.
I find it strange that you keep speaking about ending subsidies using public money for the oil and gas sector but have no issues giving public money to fund low carbon initiatives through the Canadian Climate Bank. Can I ask why you think it is acceptable to subsidize one industry (renewable energy sources) and not another (oil and gas)? If renewables are the way of the future and they are becoming so cost efficient that their adoption rate is increasing exponentially, why do these industries require government subsidies? In some jurisdictions, such as the UK, subsidies are being phased out. Why does it appear that your Party wants to move in the other direction?
The “Power to Change” Plan calls for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030. This is quite material; therefore, I must ask - what are you personally willing to sacrifice to meet this target? How do you reconcile the emissions created by your regular air travel between your BC riding and Ottawa? Riding around on one of your six bicycles on your days off isn’t enough to offset those emissions.
You pledge to take on big polluters. We know that there has to be a concerted, global effort to tackle emissions or whatever Canada does is for not, so what will you do to help big polluters like China and India reduce their emissions? It’s been proven that natural gas has significantly lower emissions than coal, a fuel source in high use in many developing countries. Mr. Singh, you do not have a firm position on many things, but I think Canadians would like to know if you support natural gas as a transition fuel. Do you or do you not support the LNG Canada project and pipeline? You have waffled so much your position is completely unclear.
Let’s talk about money. Without a way to fund your Plan, there is no way you can implement any of your proposals. The Plan is expected to cost $15 billion/ year. This is a gargantuan figure. How many years will we have to spend that kind of money? Doing the math, if Canada has 37.41 million people, that’s $400 per person, or $1,600 per family of four. Where will the money come? CBC News commissioned a poll recently, and 50% of respondents said they were not willing to pay more than $100 per year in taxes to prevent climate change -- that means they were not willing to pay less than $10 per month, but your Plan requires four times that amount.
Environmental and clean technology industries only accounted for 3.1% of Canada’s GDP in 2017, and Stats Canada has reported that number has remained relatively flat since 2007. In contrast, Canada’s energy sector accounts for 11% of Canada’s GDP. If you can’t recoup the required money from corporations and industries, I can only assume that you will have to raise taxes for the working class, but, unlike you, most of us taxpayers can’t afford BMW coupes, multiple Rolex watches and $2,000 suits. There isn’t much left over at the end of the day, and there doesn’t appear to be an appetite from many individual taxpayers to pay. You keep saying you will tax the rich, but I’m not sure that’s as lucrative as you think, so maybe you could provide more insight into this approach.
Your manifesto mentions saving families’ money. Could you please explain how it will do that? It seems to be a fight to the bottom on the left side of the political spectrum in Canada rightnow. A fight to destroy our entire economy and everything average people have worked for. You have said that climate change and inequality are the biggest challenges of this generation. This leads me to believe that your climate policies aren’t for the benefit of the environment. Rather, you want a new social order. Am I correct?
You propose to spend $4 billion to create 300,000 “good, secure jobs”. That equates to government spending of $13,333.33 for every job created. If you let the private sector take care of things, the government doesn’t have to subsidize and spend any money on job creation. And that is good news for you because you will need all the tax revenue you can get to fund your universal pharmacare, dental and visions plans. What kind of jobs will be created and where will the $4 billion come from? If the government is providing funding, will the companies and jobs be nationalized?
The proposed national building retrofit will be subsidized through low-interest loans and will be completed by 2050 according to your Plan. Once again, I need to know where the money will come from. What about the building waste from the old stuff? Where will that go? Is the plan to ship it to some poor, foreign land where it will be forgotten because it’s out-of-sight? I think you’re too focused on one thing – carbon dioxide emissions – that you are missing the full lifecycle of a product and the pollution related to creating new products and disposing of dejected ones.
The Plan focuses a fair amount on transportation, which is good because we know that it’s a significant contributor to emissions. Free public transit is a pivotal plank of this Plan, and one of great pride for the NDP. I’m not sure if your Party is aware, but not every Canadian lives in an urban center with transit. It seems rather impractical and costly to me to provide transit to small, remote communities, even though it sounds good in theory.
A complete shift to “zero-emission” electric vehicles is very popular in political circles right now. Fortunately, the NDP recognizes that a network of charging stations will be required. Could you please elaborate on this item? Who will fund it? Taxpayers? Is it intended to be a nationalized system? Will it be in place by 2025 when all Federal vehicles must be electric? That’s only 6 years away.
Economists have said that $250/ tonne pricing will be required to meet the Paris targets. The NDP’s “star” candidate, the infamous Svend Robinson, was on national television stating that we’re in “wartime footing” because the climate issue is such an emergency. At the same time, Vancouver residents are wailing about the price of gasoline and the impact to their affordability, so much so that Premier Horgan convened a public inquiry into how to solve the problem. How will your Party implement the required pricing program and, at the same time, get Canadians’ buy-in?
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Please note that I will be publishing this as an open letter, so any responses I receive will be shared to help voters make an informed decision in the upcoming election.