Green Party of Canada Platform: 2.1.5 Transport

A continuing review of  the Green Party of Canada’s Platform:

2.1.5 Transport

Employing currently available green technologies and encouraging transportation shareholders to be more efficient will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector, which accounts for about 20% of Canada’s emissions.

Carbon conditionality.  A Green government will establish transport-based carbon conditionality clauses affecting all federal funds and loans.

Walking and cycling.  All bicycles and bicycle gear will be tax deductible and GST free.  All federal staff will receive a cycling allowance equal to the vehicle allowance.

A Green government will match provincial and municipal investments designed to increase walking and cycling, with a baseline contribution of 25% of the total cost, rising to 50% where provinces pay bicycle allowances to their staff and equip all government buildings with cycling facilities, and where cities do likewise, increasing the kilometers of cycling lanes and trails, and establishing policies to encourage smart growth and prevent sprawl.

Access to Canada’s National Parks will be free to all those who enter on bicycles or on foot.

Transit and Light Rail Transit.  A Green government will match provincial and territorial investments in transit with a  baseline contribution of 25% of the total cost, rising to 75% where municipalities have established working policies to encourage smart growth and prevent sprawl, and where transit authorities introduce progressive programs designed to increase ridership such as annual U-passes for colleges, eco-passes for neighbourhoods, commuter passes for businesses, and requirements that new developments must be served by transit. A Green government will make it compulsory for developers to provide three- year transit passes for all their development’s new residents (as in Boulder, Colorado).

Long-Distance Coaches.  A Green government will liberalize the licensing for long-distance coach lines to encourage competition and greater ridership, while maintaining rigorous safety standards.  It will eliminate the fuel tax (but not the carbon tax) for companies that sign a carbon conditionality agreement to upgrade their fleets to high efficiency technologies and train their drivers in efficient driving.  It will provide federal funding for upgrades to coach stations to a standard that will be attractive to everyone.

Rail.  A Green government will re-invest in our national passenger rail infrastructure, working toward high speed rail connections in Canada’s busiest passenger corridors.  A Green government will invest in intermodal connections, increase funding for joint federal-municipal light rail projects, as well as restore VIA rail service to all major regional cities.  A Green government will create a national clean rail freight initiative that uses both regulatory means and financial incentives to improve fleet efficiency and safety

Teleworking.  A Green government will pay a no-trip vehicle allowance to all federal staff working from home, give a tax credit for the cost of establishing a home office, and establish a parking cash-out system (cash to employees not using a company parking space) to encourage reduced use of cars and parking.

Vehicles.  When it comes to vehicle technologies, corn and grain-based biofuels pose an unacceptable cost in reducing food available for people as well as having dubious net greenhouse gas reductions.  Hydrogen will not deliver in the near term nor possibly in the long-term due to inherent storage, distribution and production efficiency reasons.  Cellulosic ethanol offers some potential, but electric vehicles have recently leapt ahead.  Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can be 100% electric for short distance trips and fully electric vehicles are already available.  Today’s fully electric vehicles are economical for city driving and models are in development that can economically replace the full function of an internal combustion engine vehicle.  As more electric and hybrid vehicles become available at affordable prices, non-hybrid internal combustion engine personal vehicles should be phased out.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Work with the motor industry, provinces, territories and other partners to develop a sustainable vehicles strategy, leading to an 85% reduction in emissions below today’s level by 2040.
  • Adopt California standards requiring a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions from new vehicles sold in Canada by 2015, 50% by 2020 and 90% by 2025.  This will drive the manufacture of zero-emission vehicles and the infrastructure to support them.  It will also create fuel efficiency standards in line with leading U.S. states for the 2011 model year.
  • Accelerate the market arrival of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and fully electric vehicles by signing the Plug-In Partners advanced purchasing agreement (creating a federal buying pool) with a commitment to buy large numbers of PHEVs for federal government use as soon as they are available. Carbon conditionality clauses in federal contracts will include a requirement for the purchase of plug-in vehicles as soon as they are more readily available.
  • Work with all governments and businesses in Canada to join a Canadian green car buying pool and to join the Plug-In Partners buying pool.
  • Offer scale-based rebates of up to $5,000 for the purchase of the most efficient vehicles, and scale-based fees on the purchase of inefficient vehicles.
  • Require mandatory vehicle fuel efficiency labelling, adopting the European system.
  • Allow tax write-off benefits only for energy efficient company cars.
  • Provide incentives for Canadian manufacturers of electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
  • Establish a new authority to create a just transition fund for the automobile sector, funded by an additional fee on all sales of inefficient cars in Canada.

Even with electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, liquid fuel will still be required though possibly up to 80% less than is used today.  A Green government will support research and development of cellulosic ethanol from domestic farm and forest wastes as long as these “wastes” are surplus to the need to sustain soils.  The Green Party opposes the development, manufacture and use of ethanol or biodiesel (biofuels) derived from food crops.  The Green Party opposes current laws requiring the use of biofuels and will only support standards for biofuel use when supplies of biofuels that are derived from demonstrably-sustainable waste sources become available.

Aviation: A Green government will work with the aviation industry to develop a sustainability strategy, leading to an 85% reduction in overall emissions by 2040. This will likely mean a reduction in number of flights, especially short distance flights. We will impose a two-year moratorium on all airport expansions in order to develop a sensible post-carbon aviation plan.

All aviation fuel will carry both a regular fuel tax and the carbon tax. The carbon tax will be rated for the carbon equivalency of aviation impact. Long-distance flights at high altitude and night flights will pay a carbon tax at up to twice the regular rate to cover the climate impact of nitrous oxide emissions (which convert to tropospheric ozone, a greenhouse gas) and high level cloud cover which more slowly dissipates at night (which traps heat).

A Green Government will work with business partners to secure the installation of video-conferencing facilities in every community larger than 1,000 people by 2015.

Video-conferencing facilities for meetings and conferences will be free of GST and will qualify for an Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance. The federal government will achieve a 50% reduction in meetings that would otherwise involve flying by 2010, and an 80% reduction by 2015. MPs with rural ridings will be encouraged to meet constituents by video-link.

Comments and discussion are welcomed.  I am examining this as I go to gain a better grasp of their platform and invite all who are interested to do the same with comments and discussion.

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