The Green Party of Canada has introduced a sweeping climate change plan that promises to stop foreign oil imports, create a non-partisan federal cabinet and turn Canada's economy carbon-free by the end of the 21st century.
Leader Elizabeth May unveiled the 20-point plan on Thursday in Ottawa, pledging that a Green government, if elected would immediately ramp up action, including new infrastructure initiatives to spread renewable energy as well as programs to save and conserve energy.
"Some might think it's mission impossible to do what's required," May said at a news conference on Parliament Hill. "But we've costed the numbers. It's mission possible, we can do it."
She said further details would be released in the lead-up to the 2019 election campaign and that she would allow the numbers to be reviewed by Parliament's independent budget officer.
May unveiled her plan as Liberals and New Democrats pushed for MPs to declare that Canada is facing a climate change emergency that threatens the country's economy and ecosystems. She is also riding a wave of momentum that follows a stunning byelection victory by Green candidate Paul Manly in the B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith, as well as a strong showing for provincial Greens in an April election in Prince Edward Island that saw the party form the official Opposition in a minority legislature.
The party's support has risen, nationally, to double-digit support, but still trails in fourth place behind the Opposition Conservatives, the governing Liberals and opposition New Democrats in most public opinion polls.
May said that her party's plan would require Canada to take a war-like stance to address climate change, by appointing a federal cabinet made up of politicians from different parties.
"We are in a climate emergency," she said. "Climate change is not an environmental issue. It's a massive security threat and it must be dealt with by government at all levels as a security threat that requires taking bold action. It's best done if we can possibly do it in a non-partisan way, which is why in a time of war, the opposition parties were invited in the inner cabinet to make sure that decisions that were taken were not subject to becoming political footballs."
The Green Party's plan aims to achieve a 60 per cent reduction in Canada's annual greenhouse gas emissions, below 2005 levels, by 2030, and zero emissions by 2050. This would double Canada's existing target for 2030, which May said was necessary.
"We are facing a larger threat than human species has ever been faced with before," she said.
The party also pledges to modernize Canada's electricity grid to improve transmission lines between the east and the west. In addition, the party is promising to create millions of well-paying jobs through a national building retrofit plan that would improve energy consumption in buildings across the country.
May's plan also calls for an end of imports of foreign oil, requiring instead some new investments in upgraders to turn Canada's vast resources of bitumen in Alberta's oilsands into gas, diesel and other products, while supporting jobs.
The Green Party plan also calls for the government to invest significant resources to improve adaptation, particularly for economic sectors such as agriculture, fisheries and forestry, which are vulnerable to climate change.