The Conservative Party of Canada has voted against recognizing climate change.
Canada’s main opposition party members have voted down a proposal to recognize climate change as real, in a blow to the new party leader’s efforts to embrace environment-friendly policies ahead of a likely federal election later this year.
The rejected motion included the willingness to act against climate risks and to make highly polluting Canadian businesses take more responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole had urged party members to rally around an ambitious climate agenda to avoid a defeat at the hands of the ruling Liberals that have made climate change a central issue.
O’Toole asked members to be open to new ideas if they were serious about toppling Liberals in the next election, even if that goes against the party’s conventional thinking and said he doesn’t want Conservative candidates to be branded as "climate change deniers."
Yet despite the leader’s pleas, the Conservative Party members rejected the policy shift by 54% to 46%.
Climate change was a polarizing issue in the last election campaign. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stresses that the environment is a priority, Canada has failed to meet any of its climate pledges amid resistance from politicians who say the targets threaten the oil industry.
Canada is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer and one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gases on a per-capita basis and Trudeau’s Liberal Party supporters rank it among their top concerns.