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Greens, B.C. NDP come out ahead in assessment of climate change policies

A man bearing a sign at a rally in Victoria suggesting the B.C. Green Party might have strong support among environmentalists.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

With polls in B.C. showing the race between the NDP and Liberals tightening, the fight to win over Green supporters has become increasingly important.

A study by the Pembina Institute, a non-profit think tank, shows that the NDP may have an edge over the Liberals in that battle. But it also shows the Greens are the only party to get positive ratings in all the categories covered in the study, which could help them hold on to their voters.

Matt Horne, director of the Pembina Institute, said the study looked at four election issues that could affect the province's ability to meet its targets for reducing greenhouse gases: oil pipelines, liquefied natural gas development, the carbon tax and green jobs.

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He said the question of whether Vancouver should expand its coal port facilities was not assessed because none of the parties has taken a clear position.

The four parties were rated (PDF) on whether their policies on the issues represent either "a step forward, or a step backward, for a healthy climate." Policies seen as uncertain got ratings of "no progress" or "unclear."

Mr. Horne said "a clear differentiation" emerges between the NDP and Liberals, the two parties leading in the polls.

The NDP got favourable ratings for opposing the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipeline proposals; for promising to apply the carbon tax to natural gas venting, and for promoting green jobs through incentives for clean technology development. NDP support for LNG development, however, was considered a step back. The score: three positive, one negative.

The Liberals got favourable ratings for offering incentives for clean technology development, but plans to freeze the carbon tax were rated as "no progress." The Liberal position on pipelines calls for five conditions to be met before oil can be shipped through B.C. But Pembina rated that stand as "unclear" because the party has not spelled out exactly what is required to meet the conditions. Liberal support for LNG was considered a step back. The score: one positive rating, one negative, one no-progress, one unclear.

"On balance, you are going to see more progress based on those NDP promises than you are from the Liberal promises," Mr. Horne said.

The Green Party got positive ratings in all categories.

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The Conservatives got negatives for supporting LNG and pipelines, and for promising to kill the carbon tax, and an "unclear" on green jobs.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Mark Hume is a National Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver, writing news and feature stories on a daily basis about his home province of British Columbia. His weekly column, which often challenges the orthodoxy on environmental issues, appears every Monday. More

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