With Andrew Scheer’s resignation as leader of Conservative Party of Canada, the party has an opportunity to establish a new approach to the climate crisis and promote economic development in rural and agricultural ridings.
The Conservative party’s approach to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets large emitters and doesn’t affect farmers.
Agriculture is largely exempt from the federal carbon tax brought in by the Liberals, but it does add extra costs for farmers to transport their goods and to dry grain.
Both of these plans miss the mark when it comes to agriculture because they don’t provide incentives to farmers to improve their GHG footprint or recognize how helpful the industry can be to combat climate change.
Neither the Conservative nor Liberal parties plan to address the climate crisis leverage, which is one of Canada’s largest advantages — our ability to convert a lot of land into carbon sinks.
The Conservative plan to reduce GHG emissions relies on yet-to-be developed technologies, but incentives to change land-use patterns can immediately increase carbon sequestration.
A new Conservative climate change plan could provide incentives for producers to convert small parcels of less-productive or awkward-to-access land, including around field edges and wet spots, into carbon sinks though a payment-for-ecological-service scheme.
Small pieces of land across Canada could add up to thousands of acres of new carbon sinks, which would help the industry be seen as a solution to the climate crisis instead of a root cause.
Similar to how the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration helped farmers recover from drought in the 1930s through promoting new approaches to land use, including tree culture and a focus on water supply, a new Conservative climate change plan could help rural landowners both mitigate and adapt to a changing climate.
Transitioning Canada to have fewer net GHG emissions is going to cost money, and it makes sense that people who help the country’s GHG balance sheet should benefit.
Rural landowners are also strong supporters of the Conservative party, so it wouldn’t be a bad move for the party to return the support.