How to vote for the planet in Canada's federal election

An action plan to address climate change in Monday's election

This coming Monday, September 20th, we have an opportunity to send a message to our political leaders that we want strong, decisive action on climate change, and we want it now.

If you’re like me and you also believe that climate change is the most important issue in this year’s federal election, then continue reading this short article on my proposed voting strategy.

What does the next Government of Canada need to achieve?

Below is the global carbon emissions reduction path that we need to achieve in order to avoid catastrophic damage to the environment as we know it1.

Some argue that we can go beyond our carbon budget in the near-term and make it up with carbon capture technologies down the line. Unsurprisingly, this kind of thinking comes from a society that’s in over its head in financial debt.

On paper you might be able to square away the carbon debt in a similar fashion to financial debt, but in reality, it’s not the same thing. While we wait for carbon capture technologies to reach the scale that’s needed to reverse climate change, irreparable environmental damage will occur. It’s as if the bank would come and start a fire in your house and try to burn it down every year that you carry a mortgage. We cannot defer this problem. We must address it now—In this election and every subsequent election for decades to come.

The party platforms

If we need to immediately and drastically reduce carbon emissions, which parties can we vote for?

Each major Canadian political party has committed to reducing Canada’s carbon footprint by the end of the decade. However, to what degree, the attainability of the plan, and the detail included in the plan vary dramatically across the parties.

Official numbers are not yet out, but one positive outcome from the COVID-19 pandemic was the unexpected drop in CO2 emissions in 2020. This has given the next Government of Canada a much-needed headstart on its reduction targets.

The Liberal, NDP and Green parties are consistent in aiming to remain below 2° of average warming across the planet and the NDP and Green parties are consistent in targeting 1.5° of average warming across the planet. In each of these cases, the world will not be the same one we have known, but at this point it’s our only choice.

The Conservative party has such low ambition in their climate plan that it’s consistent with at least 3° of average warming across the planet. Average is the most important word in the previous sentence. Because a 3° average global warming outcome will likely lead to almost 10° of warming in the western and northern parts of Canada, potentially making entire provinces and territories uninhabitable by the end of the century.

To me this is by far the most important issue on the ballot this year. No matter what the other issues are and how each party plans to address them, we cannot afford a federal government that is led by the Conservative party. If we vote Conservative in this election, we are voting away the future of our vast, great, and beautiful country.

How you should vote if climate is your priority

The goal in this election should be to maximize the number of seats that are held by parties with ambitious and sensible climate agendas and send a message to the Conservative party that their plan is severely insufficient. If protecting as much of this planet as possible is your highest priority, the follow this five-step strategy:

  1. If you don’t already know, go to the Elections Canada to determine your riding and register to vote.

  2. Determine if you’re in a competitive riding by looking at the 338Canada polling estimates. I’ve listed 42 of the most important ridings below. If you live in one of these ridings, then your vote and the vote of others in your riding have 100 times the impact—don’t waste it! Help get out the vote.

  3. Vote for the party with a climate conscious plan that is most likely to beat the Conservative party in your riding.

This approach will ensure that we maximize the number of climate conscious leaders in government. Make your vote count in this election. Mother Earth, and our future, depend on it!

Toss up ridings (and my recommended vote for the planet)

British Columbia:







Atlantic Canada:


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