Election Day: Where’s the Vote for the Environment?

Even with the coming and going of Earth Day this past week, environmental issues seem to have been left off the radar in the discussions leading up to the election.

With the recent attention on Japan’s nuclear crisis, the fervour around replacing Chernobyl’s sarcophagus radiation cover, and even the BP oil crisis that wasn’t all that long ago, concern around how we generate and consume energy couldn’t be more timely. Not many people realize that a significant amount of Canada’s electricity comes from 18 nuclear reactors in three provinces and that Canada plans to expand this capacity over the next 10 years.

Whether you’re an advocate for nuclear energy or not, the amount of energy that we consume is increasing — and a lot of this is due to our increasing obsession with information. One Google search for “soylant green” produces the same amount of CO2 as driving a car 3 inches (that’s 7.62cm for you metric folks). There’s also speculation that the 62 trillion spam emails that are sent every year amount to the same CO2 emissions as 1.2 million cars being driven around the world.

So what are some of the issues that deserve focus? The Pembina Institute reports on each electoral party’s response to an environmental policy survey that was implemented by four leading environmental institutions in Canada. While four parties provided positive response, one party refused to respond:

“We’re happy to see that most parties are willing to make commitments to tackle climate change and to promote the green economy. Unfortunately, the Conservative Party refused to answer and to give information to Canadians on their intentions to protect the environment, even though it is an important issue for Canadians,” said Steven Guilbeault of Équiterre.

The Pembina Institute also provided individual responses to the party platforms earlier in the month. The most significant issues had to do with renewable energy and efficiency, climate change, oilsands development, and sustainable transportation.