A continuing review of the Green Party of Canada’s Platform:
Part 3: Preserving and Restoring the Environment
Our natural environment is the source of our wealth and our health. Canada’s forests, water, soil and energy resources fuel our economy. However, if we treat our environment like a business in liquidation, those resources and our economy will suffer. The lack of federal regulation, monitoring, and action has made Canada one of the world’s biggest and most tragic offenders against the environment. We rank amongst the world’s worst for wasteful use of natural resources. Our soil, air and waters are dumping grounds for toxic chemicals. Through inadequate environmental protection we risk leaving our children the deplorable legacy of a debilitated and degraded environment. How can we be so thoughtless?
The Green Party of Canada has set out its plan for a sustainable future grounded in fiscal responsibility, ecological health and social justice.
As the only party working within a triple bottom line (economic, ecological and social) approach to every policy, our position on key environmental issues is clear.
It is urgent that the Canadian government set real targets, with measurable objectives, and put in place the resources to deliver on those goals. Recent history makes it clear that purely voluntary efforts do not work. Recent history also demonstrates that policies must be consistently applied. For example, it is not possible to reduce greenhouse gases while subsidizing the planet’s single biggest environment-damaging industrial development project and most carbon-intensive oil – crude from the Athabasca tar sands.
We need to correct the perception that economic success is dependent on growth and build understanding of the benefits of a steady-state economy (non-boom/bust economy). Continued exponential growth is counter to the realities of a finite planet.
3.1. Air quality
Canada faces an epidemic level of respiratory diseases, exacerbated by poor air quality. On smog alert days our emergency wards are packed. Asthma is the leading cause of absenteeism from school and the third leading cause of work loss. Three million Canadians, about 8.4 % of the country’s population, and 1 in 8 children suffer from asthma, and the numbers are increasing rapidly.
Yet, Canada’s regulation of air quality lags behind that of other nations. Canada allows sulphur dioxide at concentrations of 115 parts per million (ppm) while the European Union, for example, allows 48 and Australia permits 80.
The issue of air quality is intimately connected with climate change. The formula is: air pollution + heat = smog. A failure to confront the climate crisis, directly and soon, will result in more extreme heat conditions during the summer months. The more 30+ degree days that Canadians experience, the more smog days that will occur.
More stringently regulating to reduce the precursors of smog (particulates, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide) as well as to reduce serious neuro-toxic contamination of air with mercury is necessary and is immediately possible within the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Regulating to reduce these contaminants must be coupled with reducing the burning of fossil fuels that emit particulates as well as climate-warming greenhouse gases (GHGs). Measures to meet climate protection targets by reducing reliance on fossil fuels will have important benefits in avoiding ever-worsening heat impacts and these contaminants.
Green Party MPs will:
- Strengthen CEPA with specific and strong regulations to reduce particulates, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and other airborne contaminants.
- Address smog-causing heat and pollution through solutions outlined in Part 2: Averting Climate Catastrophe in this document.
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.