Energy and Climate: Where do the Liberals stand?

By EnPowered - September 14, 2021

Let’s take an in-depth look at what the Liberals are promising regarding energy and the climate.


TL;DR

  • $8 billion for net-zero industry acceleration and $5 billion in green bonds add fiscal heft to Liberal plans for a green economic shift

  • Elimination of fossil fuel financing and subsidies, with a net-zero oil and gas sector by 2050, while providing $2 billion to fossil fuel-reliant provincial economies for diversification

  • $1.5 billion for electric vehicle rebates and commitment to 100% zero-emissions light duty cars and passenger trucks by 2035

  • Up to $40,000 interest free loans for deep home retrofits, $250 million for low-income Canadians to transition off of oil heating

  • 10 new national parks and national marine conservation areas by 2025 and right to healthy environment enshrined in federal law



With the 2021 federal election in full swing, EnPowered is looking at the climate and energy platforms of the three largest federal parties to see what is on the table. We have already covered the Conservative’s plans, so in this article we will be looking at the Liberal platform, followed by the NDP platform in an upcoming post.

Energy production and electricity


In terms of the energy sector, the Liberal platform is aiming for net-zero oil and gas emissions by 2050, and to reduce methane emissions from the sector by 75% below 2012 levels by 2030. The Liberals have also pledged to ban the export of thermal coal from and through Canada by no later than 2030. With regards to electricity generation and the grid, a Liberal government would implement a Clean Electricity Standard to ensure 100% net-zero emissions electricity generation by 2035. This would be facilitated, in part, by the creation of a Pan-Canada Grid Council, which would promote investment in smart grid integration and electricity sector innovation.

Taxation & Finance


Pending re-election, the Liberals will move towards carbon border adjustments for emissions-intensive industries such as steel, cement, and aluminium in a manner akin to the EU’s approach. A further tax initiative would be the doubling of the Mineral Exploitation Tax Credit for minerals that are critical to cleantech and the green economy. Similarly, there would be an — up to 30% — tax investment credit for cleantech. A re-elected Liberal government would also continue to implement the current carbon tax system, which will hit $170 per tonne of CO2 by 2030.

"Canada is home to some of the cleanest products in the world thanks to our low-carbon electricity grid, abundant natural resources, and ability to draw on cutting-edge research and technology." — LPC

A Trudeau government will mandate climate-related financial disclosures based on the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework in order to provide market participants with relevant data. Furthermore, a phase-out of public financing of the fossil fuel sector (including via Crown Corporations) has been announced, together with the elimination of all fossil fuel subsidies starting in 2025, as per G20 commitments. The creation of a Sustainable Finance Action Council will also help develop net-zero capital allocation strategies for Canadian investors. Federally regulated institutions (e.g., financial institutions, pension funds, and government agencies) would be required to provide net-zero plans. Lastly, a re-elected Liberal government would issue (at least) $5 billion in green bonds.

Business and building policy


Key funding commitments for industry and business include the $8 billion Net Zero Accelerator, which will catalyse the creation of green jobs and industrial transformation. A further $1.75 billion will be targeted to support the aerospace sector to reduce emissions and adopt new clean technologies. The Liberals have also committed to creating a Made-in-Canada end-to-end battery supply chain, and will work with the United States to create an integrated battery supply chain.

To help bring about the wider green shift, the Liberals have pledged to create a Clean Jobs Training Centre to help upgrade and retrain workers with new skills. A specific regional focus is evident in the $2 billion allocated for the Futures Fund for Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland & Labrador to promote economic diversification. The creation of a Buy Clean Strategy will support and promote the use of Made-in-Canada low-carbon products in infrastructure projects: a Trudeau government would also establish a Low-Carbon Building Materials Innovation Hub. The Liberals would also partner with post-secondary institutions and Indigenous groups to accelerate the creation and growth of Indigenous cleantech businesses.

"We need to move forward with an even more ambitious plan to tackle climate change, one that seizes the opportunities of the green economy and positions Canada for long-term economic growth, in every province and territory." — LPC

With regards to housing and building codes, the Liberal’s National Net-Zero Emissions Buildings framework will aim for net-zero building emissions by 2050. In the shorter term, this goal will be supported by adopting a national zero-emissions model building code by 2025. The Liberals will also require EnerGuide labelling for houses at the time of sale to help homebuyers make informed purchasing decisions. As a companion to EnerGuide, a new Climate Adaptation Home Rating program will be created to measure a building’s climate change resilience.

Moreover, the eligibility requirements for Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) deep retrofit program will be expanded, as will the Canada Greener Homes Grants. Similarly, a re-elected Trudeau government would provide grants (up to $5,000) for home retrofits and interest-free loans up to $40,000 for deep home retrofits. Additionally, $250 million would also be earmarked to help low-income Canadians transition off of oil home heating to electric.

Transport and fuels


When it comes to transport, the Liberals are seeking to have 100% of new light duty cars and passenger trucks be zero-emission by 2035, with 50% being zero-emissions by 2030. Similarly, 100% of medium and heavy truck sales are to be zero-emission (where feasible) by 2040. A Trudeau government would also provide $200 million to retrofit large trucks on the road now to reduce pollution.

A key part of the Liberal’s transport plans is the $1.5 billion iZEV rebate program for electric vehicle purchases which will have wider eligibility criteria, such as including used car sales. Furthermore, $100 million will be spent on ensuring existing buildings have the wiring to allow for charging infrastructure, and $700 million will be allocated to create 50,000 new EV and hydrogen charging stations across Canada. Ottawa would also electrify the entire federal light duty vehicle fleet by 2030. The Liberals will support the switch to electric buses and begin the procurement process for the electrification of high speed rail service in the Toronto-Quebec City corridor by the end of 2021.

Environment and climate change


A re-elected Liberal government would continue to uphold Canada’s current emissions reduction target of 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030. This reduction would be achieved, in part, by the planting of two billion trees and increased efforts to restore wetlands, grasslands and increase support for agricultural land management practices. Specifically, the Liberals will triple funding for cleantech in farming, including precision agriculture, energy efficiency and green energy. A Trudeau government would also legislate the creation of 10 new national parks and national marine conservation areas within 5 years, and recognize the ‘right to a healthy environment’ for the first time in federal law. Going forward the Minister of Environment & Climate Change will also be tasked with examining the impacts of environmental justice, and the disproportionate effects of climate change on marginalized communities.

The Liberals are looking to continue their energy and climate policies if re-elected, and have also announced new measures ranging from tree planting to tax breaks for cleantech firms. The need to ensure a competitive, just, and pan-Canadian green economic shift is front and centre in the Liberal platform. Positioning the federal government as a vehicle for early adoption combined with aiding the private sector to create cleantech startups are also top of mind for Team Trudeau.

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