Commentary by Justin Trudeau: Fight climate change while growing economy

A commentary by the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and MP for the Quebec riding of Papineau. This is the fifth and final in a series of commentaries about climate change from Canada’s main political parties; they have been published daily this week.

In Victoria, and around the world, something incredible is happening.Students are standing up and taking to the streets. Young people are asking tough questions and demanding real answers.

They have seen the science and they know the climate crisis is real. They know that we don’t have another minute to spare.

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Our kids are counting on us. And years from now, I want to look them in the eyes and tell them that we did our part and stepped up in the fight against climate change.

That is why, over the past four years, we have worked long and hard to build our plan to protect the environment and create jobs. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start.

Just think about this: in 2015, less than 1% of our oceans were protected. Today, we’re at almost 14%, including new protected waters right here in the Salish Sea. That’s big progress in less than four years. And we know we can’t stop there. Because a better future doesn’t just happen, we make it happen. So we’ve announced a plan to do just that.

To keep our air clean, we will commit to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, while planting two billion trees over the next decade.

To ensure that Canada leads the global clean-tech race, we will cut in half corporate taxes for companies that produce zero-emission technologies.

And to help people make their homes more energy-efficient and reduce their monthly bills, we will give homeowners and landlords interest-free loans for retrofits. People can’t go net-zero on their own, so we’re giving everyone the support they need to make their footprint smaller.

Our plan is about making a real difference in people’s lives. Here on the coast, that means everything from investing in marine science to working with the province on moving away from open-net salmon farms.

That’s our approach.

But it’s not what everyone is offering.

The Conservative approach would increase emissions and make pollution free again. All Andrew Scheer is offering Canadians is to cancel our climate plan, which will cost families money.

Conservative politicians ignore climate change because they don’t think it’s an economic issue. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

When smoke from wildfires means tourists don’t visit, people on Vancouver Island lose business. When floods wash out people’s basements, families on the mainland have to repair their homes.

Climate change is already making life more expensive for Canadians, and Conservative politicians don’t have any solutions to offer.

British Columbians know that isn’t the right approach. You know that denial isn’t a plan for our future, and that ignoring climate change isn’t an option for our kids and grandkids.

This province led the way with a price on pollution, and you have seen cleaner air and the economy continue to grow. So you know that there are real solutions we can put in place. But whether it’s making zero-emissions vehicles more affordable or increasing our nature protection targets once again — both of which our plan will do — this is work that won’t do itself. We have to make it happen.

And that’s the choice Canadians have this October — whether we keep moving forward for a better future, or whether we go backward to the Harper years, when the Conservatives did nothing about climate change.

We know that we can fight climate change while growing the economy. We know that we can put in place a plan that means more jobs and less pollution.

Because we won’t give tax breaks to the one per cent or big polluters. Instead, we will make life more affordable for Canadians while continuing to protect our environment.

British Columbians know that a better future is always possible.

And on Oct. 21, together, we get to choose where we go from here.

I’m for moving forward, for everyone.

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