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Canada Votes in First Green MP

By Boyd Cohen

By Boyd Cohen, CO2 IMPACT

Elizabeth May, Canada’s Leader of the Green Party, won an historic election on May 2nd.  She is the first ever elected Member of Parliament in Canada for the Green Party.  Despite an overwhelming victory for the Conservative party in Canada’s national elections on Monday, Elizabeth May made history.

The Greens in Canada have extended beyond a pure green agenda.  Their current platform focuses on Smart Economy, Strong Communities and "True Democracy."

Today (May 2nd) I traveled from Vancouver to Victoria on B.C. Ferries to teach the first class of my course on Climate Capitalism at UVIC.  On my way back to the ferry in Victoria, I was able to meet up briefly with Elizabeth May and some of her campaigners.  I gave her my new book, Climate Capitalism.  She responded by saying that the message in our book is exactly aligned with the Smart Economy agenda of the Green Party.
So you can guess that I am a bit giddy that Canada now has an elected official who publicly endorses the principles of Climate Capitalism, that by adopting low carbon solutions, Canada will actually grow its employment base and its economy.

“A smart economy is efficient. It relies on non-polluting systems and energy sources. It ends waste. It reuses and recycles. Through closed-loop systems it is massively more efficient. That efficiency will bring greater competitiveness and prosperity to the entire Canadian economy.”

The Green Party laid out their green agenda with their 2011 Vision Green Plan.  Two items from their agenda directly related to Climate Capitalism: 1.) The Green Economy; and 2.) Averting Climate Catastrophe.

On the Green Economy, the Canadian Green Party adopts a similar stance to what many like Van Jones have been promoting in the U.S.  That investing in a clean, green transition will lead to net job and income growth for citizens and companies.  Some of the specific investments recommended include supporting green startups, clean transit, and localized food production.  I agree with that and this perspective is detailed in our Climate Capitalism with communities and even countries around the globe that are profiting from the transition to the low carbon economy.

Where the Green agenda really impresses is on their goals for Averting Climate Catastrophe.  Their recommendations include setting a GHG reduction goal of 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. As some of you know that is the highest number Europe is considering. Given Canada is currently about 24% above 1990 levels, compared with Europe which will achieve its 8% reduction by 2012, Canada’s Green Party goal is significant.  The Green Party goes further to suggest that if other developed countries adopt more rigorous reduction targets, the Greens would match them. And they conclude by suggesting that policies and incentives would be implemented to enable the gradual and eventual achievement of carbon neutrality for the whole country.

Yes some of the Green Party objectives are pretty aggressive for a country now majority controlled by the Conservative party.  And of Course Elizabeth May, as the lone Green Party representative in Parliament, could not move the government towards the Green platform on her own.  However, an interesting development is that the New Democratic Party (NDP) now has over 100 seats (about 1/3 of the seats in Parliament).  The NDP has been pushing for the adoption of a carbon tax.  So, between the historic election of the first Green Party candidate and the surprising rise of the NDP, who also supports taking action on climate change, I am choosing to see the Canadian election with a glass half-full mentality.

One can only hope that this could be the start of something good in Canada, that over time could trickle down to the U.S. too?  I know it seems like a stretch but before today would you have believed you would be going to sleep knowing that Osama bin Laden would not be walking on this planet anymore?


Boyd Cohen is the CEO of CO2 IMPACT, a carbon origination company based in Vancouver, Canada and Bogota, Colombia. Boyd is also the co-author of Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change.

Twitter: boydcohen

This series will use the hashtag #climatcaptlsm


Boyd Cohen is the CEO of CO2 IMPACT, a carbon origination company based in Vancouver, Canada and Bogota, Colombia. Boyd is also the co-author of Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change.

Twitter: boydcohen

Read more stories by Boyd Cohen