Here’s what federal campaigns are doing to limit their environmental impact – National
Politics can be dirty business, as the old saying goes — and a federal campaign may be no different when it comes to its environmental impact.
Planes – not so much trains – and automobiles criss-cross the country repeatedly over the course of several weeks as parties vie to win the hearts and minds of voters. And in a country as large as Canada, that can mean a lot of carbon emissions and other environmental impacts.
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For example, a flight from Ottawa to Vancouver for 30 people emits about 25,140 kilograms of carbon, according to the German carbon offset organization Atmosfair. By comparison, the non-profit organization estimates the average annual carbon output of a single vehicle at 2,000 kilograms.
Campaigns can also often mean that those on the road subsist on a diet of disposable coffee cups, water bottles, take-out trays and other general trash.
At the same time, polls suggest that climate change is a major concern for Canadian voters, with all federal parties so far promising to tackle it in different ways.
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Jackie Dawson, Canada Research Chair in Environment, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa, says that while shorter campaigns like this tend to have less impact on the environment than the longer ones, they still have a cost for the environment.
“It’s intense and there’s definitely a lot of theft and I really hope the leaders and the people vying for MP seats are aware of that and think about it,” she said. “There is definitely an impact.”
She noted that the increase is probably not “crazy” since politicians travel a lot during the year, but that given the importance of climate change for voters, it is important to look at what are doing. campaigns on factors under their control such as single-use plastics and fewer lawn signs.
“I think it’s a smart campaign because people want to see it. They want to see less trash and litter,” she said.
So here’s a breakdown of what the four major federal parties say they are doing to try to limit their impact on the environment.
The Liberals have made reducing the environmental impact of pollution a major policy focus during their four years in government and say they plan to do the same in the current campaign as well.
The party has chartered a plane — a Boeing 737-800 — and although its campaign plane was grounded following a collision with the media bus on Wednesday, the rescue plane is also of the same model.
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Liberal campaign stops will take place across the country over the next five weeks, which means a potentially significant amount of carbon emissions.
Liberal campaign spokeswoman Carlene Variyan said the party will buy carbon offsets as it did in 2015.
“To reduce its environmental footprint, similar to the last election campaign in 2015, the Liberal Party of Canada will purchase offset carbon credits through Bullfrog Power Inc, which works with Less Emissions,” Variyan said.
“We also provide staff and journalists on the road with reusable bottles and cutlery.”
Additionally, Variyan said the party’s central campaign office would not provide single-use plastic to any of its campaign workers.
They also installed compost bins in all sections of their office.
Like the Liberals, the Conservative Party has also drawn up a plan for its electoral travels.
They will use an Airbus A319 leased from Air Canada.
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A party spokesperson said the Conservatives would not buy carbon offsets.
Asked if additional measures are taken to reduce the environmental impact of a campaign, such as limiting single-use plastics, the spokesperson replied: “We recycle”.
New Democratic Party
Unlike the larger and richer campaign apparatus of the Liberals and Conservatives, the NDP will be different in one important respect: it has no campaign plane.
While the party will charter a plane when needed, the campaign instead focuses on one geographic region at a time rather than flying back and forth across the country from day to day.
And while pundits have pointed to the lack of a campaign plane as a sign of the party’s faltering fortunes, it will also likely cause the NDP to run a lower-emissions campaign than the other two major parties.
The party uses a campaign bus for transport in the areas it focuses on and distributes recyclable water cans rather than plastic water containers to journalists on the media bus covering the campaign.
Additionally, it also distributes reusable coffee cups and uses bamboo plates and metal rather than plastic utensils at mealtimes.
It will also buy carbon offsets, which the David Suzuki Foundation defines as “a credit for greenhouse gas reductions achieved by one party that can be purchased and used to offset (offset) another party’s emissions. “.
“We will do everything we can to limit the carbon footprint of the campaign, and yes, we plan to offset our emissions,” said party spokeswoman Melanie Richer, who said the party prioritized reducing single-use plastics.
We will use zero-emission transport as often as possible and be as efficient as possible in our route. And as you know, Jagmeet really likes to ride a bike. We will also do everything we can to limit the use of single-use plastics on our tour. Compared to Trudeau’s climate hypocrisy, Jagmeet takes the climate crisis seriously.
Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said the party would also not charter planes.
Instead, they will operate commercial flights when needed and rely on electric vehicles whenever possible.
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When the green campaign kicks off (economy class), they’ll buy carbon offsets, according to press secretary Rosie Emery.
But the aim of the campaign is to plan in a way to reduce the number of flights to be made, she added.
“We also try to travel efficiently, which means we tie into a lot of events when Elizabeth May visits a community,” Emery said.
“We avoid, for example, flying to Toronto from Victoria for an event. We try to avoid flying at all but it is not possible. We’re bundling the trip and planning the tour so that when Elizabeth May leaves her riding in British Columbia to head east, we’re attacking a tour by accomplishing several of our goals at once.
Some Green Party riding associations, not just the federal party, will also buy carbon offsets for their local campaigns.
Emery noted, however, that this was happening “organically” and not under the direction of the national party.
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