Conservatives and climate. These two terms are increasingly a paradox in the polarized political climate of our country. That, however, should not be the case when the Conservatives have a proven track record of implementing concrete climate policies. From Brian Mulroney, the “greenest PM in Canadian history” onwards, Tories have demonstrated, over
and over again, that the party could leave behind a greener planet for future generations without delving into the toxicity of partisan politics. So what has changed?
In order to find an adequate answer, we have to do some soul-searching.
Indeed, our party has strayed further and further from the scientific consensus. In the national policy convention in 2021, the party delegates voted down the motion to “act on climate change” or to even recognize that “climate change is real”. Many of our voters, in contrast to every other represented federal parties, do not even consider climate change to be an issue. During our leadership debates, climate change was only brought up briefly as a buzzword rather than as a topic where serious Conservative leadership is needed.
As a young Conservative who cares deeply about our environment, I often feel disillusioned over the lack of progress or even promises of my party. I’ve even worked for the Greens in the 2019 Federal Election due to my disappointment with Andrew Scheer’s paper-thin environmental policies. This sentiment is also shared with young Canadians across the board. In a 2021 poll conducted by my firm, CYACA.ca, and Ipsos, we found that climate change remained a top-five issue with young voters, even amidst the pandemic, rising costs of living, and economic uncertainties.
In order for Conservatives to retake control in the national conversation around climate change, we need to rethink our entire attitude towards it. Rather than halfheartedly approaching it as an issue we must address in order to win moderate votes in the GTA, Tories need to enthusiastically greet it not only as a way to safeguard our future but to create quality jobs while spurring the much-needed innovation within our economy.
There are several ways to start.
Conservatives should continue to provide a centre-right alternative to voters and address many of the country’s issues from a moderate but consistently conservative perspective. Carbon tax, for example, should be incorporated into the party’s platform in the next election rather than only mentioned infrequently mixed in with erratic calls to abolish it. Conservatives need to realize that climate change is anthropogenic in nature and is threatening our economic prosperity, the continuation of our way of life, and the livelihood of First Nations in the Arctic. The carbon tax has been regarded consistently as the most effective and economically sensible way to reduce carbon emissions. Yet instead of continuing Trudeau’s model of a carbon tax where consumers, combined with the rising costs of living, are hurt, a moderate Conservative government could place the levy on carbon-intensive industries, instead, and allow provincial governments to decide for themselves how to best utilize their tax revenue, whether it is to promote new renewable energy developments or encouraging the development of green technologies.
The Conservative government should also introduce a concrete plan to reduce its carbon footprint, develop our natural resources sustainably, and commit to national carbon neutrality no later than 2050. Canada’s energy sector is vital to our economic success and energy independence, and the phase-out proposed by the left is not only not business-sensical but will also hurt the lives of thousands who depend on it, many of whom will be jobless under a radical transition plan. Our resource sector, if managed properly, is our underutilized power bank for fast-tracking growth in our renewable industries. The much-neglected nuclear sector is yet another way to generate zero-emissions energy while creating more jobs for hardworking Canadians. International cooperation with the Biden administration and the E.U. around border tariffs and international green economy initiatives will further strengthen the resilience of Western economies while punishing carbon-intensive polluters like China.
As a Tory standing by the ideals of classical liberalism and fighting for harworking Canadians, I am proud to join Centre Ice Conservatives and continue to push for conservative and concrete climate solutions to help our party leave behind a better future for the next generations while creating economic opportunities for years to come.
Authored by Calvin Yang -CEO of CYACA.ca, Canada’s first Gen-Z led climate lobbying group Recipient of Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 2021 by Corporate Knights for his work in federal climate legislation UC Berkeley-based Young Conservative who advised and served on campaigns in climate change in both Canada and the United States