Trudeau, Scheer offer homeowners duelling green retrofit plans

Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer appealed Wednesday to one of their favourite voter demographics — homeowners — by offering them duelling plans meant to help out their pocketbooks with green retrofits.

These announcements were more micro in scale in terms of their overall green plans, but did give the federal leaders a springboard to trash each other’s macro climate strategies. However, the fuzzy details of their environmental policies also put them on the defensive.

Refundable tax credit

Scheer was up first, speaking in Jonquière, Que., outside the home renovation chain store Potvin & Bouchard. Although the Conservatives announced their green strategy in June, the Conservative leader took the opportunity to highlight one of his platform planks — a 20 per cent refundable tax credit he said will let people save up to $3,800 on green home renovations.

And it gave Scheer an opening to slam Trudeau’s green plan as a whole, saying that it was written on the corner of a napkin and that all it really reveals is that Trudeau is the “master of improvisation.”

Scheer scoffed at Trudeau’s big announcement the previous day — to push Canada to net-zero emissions by 2050. Canada has already committed to reducing its annual greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Scheer said Trudeau not only can’t meet the 2030 targets, but now says all kinds of things about what he can do in 2050 “with zero details.”

Unlike the Liberal policy, Scheer boasted that his party has “a real plan to protect our environment,” and that is “realistic and achieveable.” Not only is it the “most comprehensive plan ever produced by a political party” it also has the best chance to meet the Paris Agreement targets, he said.

Asked for details on how he would reach those targets, Scheer said through investing in things like green technology, green tax credits. Asked again about the the lack of details, Scheer responded that his plan is costed, that it actually does have a lot of detail and a lot of figures — and then he bashed Trudeau again.

Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer took the opportunity to highlight one of his party platforms — a 20 per cent refundable tax credit they say will allow Canadians to save up to $3,800 on green home renovations. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

 About 90 minutes later, and more than 4,500 km west, it was Trudeau’s turn to make his pitch in Delta, B.C.

Trudeau promised interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to upgrade old furnaces, replace leaky windows or retrofit homes to make them more energy-efficient and resilient to floods and wildfires caused by climate change.

But Trudeau also took the opportunity to bash the Conservatives in general, for their environmental record, or as Trudeau sees it, lack thereof.

‘Do-nothing approach’

Scheer’s plan for climate change, Trudeau charged, is the same as the “do-nothing approach” of former prime minister Stephen Harper, that will “do less and cost more”

Unlike the Conservative Party, he said, which refuses to admit climate change is a problem, the Liberal government  has done a lot to fight climate change, and acknowledges that more needs to be done. 

Yet Trudeau, like Scheer, was forced to answer questions about how exactly the plan will exceed the 2030 targets. 

Trudeau said the country is already three-quarters of the way there and that, over the next 11 years, not only will Canada meet those targets, but surpass them and be well on the way to net zero by 2050.

And how will this occur? 

Trudeau offered few details but stressed that the key, in general, is innovation that will develop zero emission technologies.

However fact checks conducted by CBC News raise questions about some of the environmental aspirations of both Scheer and Trudeau.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promised Canadians access to interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to upgrade old furnaces, replace leaky windows or retrofit their homes. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

For example, as CBC’s Lucas Powers revealed, Trudeau’s claim that Canada is on its way to meet the 2030 climate target are undermined by reports issued by his own government.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), which regularly publishes updates on the country’s progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, projected that even under a best-case scenario — one that takes into account policies already in place and those that are “under development but have not yet been fully implemented” — our total emissions in 2030 will only be 19 per cent below 2005 levels.

And as for Scheer’s promise to meet the Paris agreement targets, the CBC’s Jonathan Gatehouse reported that a recent analysis, prepared by an economist and an environmental engineer for Clean Prosperity, found that Scheer’s approach would end up being more costly and less effective than current government policies. 

“Our analysis of the emissions reductions potential of the plan demonstrates that it does not have a reasonable chance of achieving Canada’s 2030 target under the Paris Agreement,” the authors wrote.

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