Last Friday, the federal Liberal government released its long-awaited detailed plan for fighting climate change.
Hardly anyone noticed.
With a vaccine finally arriving, COVID-19 still spreading, and, oh yeah, Christmas right around the corner, it’s hard to get people to get excited about a 79-page document filled with arcane details about energy-efficient renovations and car charging stations.
But if the measures in this plan are put into place, it will transform Canada.
The response to the plan from environmentalists was generally positive, the federal Conservatives groused about it killing the economy, and doubtless, as with all plans this large, there will be some firms that find themselves on the losing end.
But in general, the plan seems sensible, thought-out, and aimed at growing Canadian industries and jobs. There’s a huge focus on retrofitting everything from homes to industrial workplaces to hospitals to schools for energy efficiency. We’ll see subsidies for electric cars stay in place, but also programs to buy thousands of electric buses. The use of coal for power is to end in a decade.
Doubtless some elements of the plan will change as it runs headlong into the realities of the future. But the broad strokes are surprisingly ambitious for the Liberals.
They’re also far overdue. The Liberals should have done this in 2015. The Conservatives should have done it in the mid-2000s. The previous Liberal government should have done it in the 1990s, and so on.
The benefits of a carbon-neutral economy will include doing our part to slow and stop climate change. But they will also include cleaner skies and fewer lung cancers. We ought to have done it years ago.
Here’s hoping the Liberals stick to their guns, and deliver on once-in-a-generation change.