This article gives some scientific findings, outlines a political context and explains the stance of each of the four major parties on climate change.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

World issues, environmental studies, politics

Key Questions to Explore:

  • What is the position of each of the major parties on ways to address climate change?
  • Why is this such an urgent and important issue?
  • Should this be the key issue in this election?

New Terminology:

Signatory, Kyoto Accord, GHG emissions, IPCC, Paris Agreement

Materials Needed:

Copies of the appropriate sections of the article for group work

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

Climate change has been a front-and-centre issue for quite a while but its urgency has been ratcheted up by recent reports that global warming and its impacts are occurring even more rapidly than anticipated. A report, authored by 90 scientists, stressed that countries have a chance of limiting average temperature increases to 1.5 degrees but, with current practices, will “blow right by those targets” and would see a rise of between 2.7 and 3.4 degrees, which will have catastrophic impacts on human society and the environment.

So, what is Canada doing? Canada failed to live up to its Kyoto commitments set in 1997 and, in fact Stephen Harper pulled Canada out of the agreement. The Paris agreement of 2015 committed developed countries to cut their GHG (greenhouse gases) emissions by 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050 and reach net-zero emissions in the second half of the century. Canada, under current practices, is unlikely to reach that goal. The Trudeau government, in an effort to address that commitment, introduced a federal carbon tax which would be imposed on any province that either does not have tits own levy or does not meet federal standards. Various provincial governments have challenged this in the courts for a variety of reasons and climate change has become a political issue.

With the upcoming election and the recent reports that stress the need to be even more aggressive in addressing climate change, it is important to know where each political party stands on the issue and what their plans are to address climate change. This lesson will have the students explore the political context, study the position of each of the parties and discuss how important an issue they believe this to be.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by asking the students to identify what they believe are the important issues that should to be addressed in the upcoming election.
  • Make a list of their suggestions and indicate to them that the focus of the lesson will be on climate change and the positions of the various political parties on the issue.
  • Divide the students into five groups and assign one of the following to each group:
    1. What does the current research reveal about climate change and what is the current Canadian political context for the issue?
    2. What is the Liberal plan and where are the gaps?
    3. What is the Conservative plan and where are the gaps?
    4. What is the New Democrat plan and where are the gaps?
    5. What is the Green Party plan and where are the gaps?
  • Provide the groups with copies of the appropriate part of the article for their assignment and allow them time to develop a response.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have each group, in order, present their findings and respond to any questions or comments from the class.
  • Once this has been done, hold a plenary session and discuss the plans with the students, asking them which one they prefer and why.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  • explain why this is such an important issue;
  • outline the positions of the various parties;
  • explain which plan they support and why.

Confirming Activity:

  • For homework, have the students write a brief explanation outlining whether or not they consider this to be so important an issue that, if they could vote, it would determine how they cast their ballot.