Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA] (November 29, 2018) – In response to the release of the Ontario government’s “Preserving and Protecting Our Environment For Future Generations: A Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan”, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) Canada issued the following statements from its Executive Director, Catherine Abreu, and from CAN-Rac members:
“While it is good to see the Ford government studying the impacts of climate change in Ontario and beginning to follow-through on a promise to put its own plan in place after eliminating the province’s existing climate programs, the good news stops there. Today Environment Minister Rod Phillips lauded the efforts of previous governments in overseeing a 22% reduction in Ontario’s GHG emissions in the 13 years since 2005, while presenting an incomplete plan to reduce emissions by just 8% in the next 12 years. The plans laid out today fail to protect the climate for Ontarians today and generations to come.
With today’s announcement, the Ford government has lowered the ambition of its 2030 emissions reduction targets by 30 MT. This increase is greater than the emissions reductions Ontario experienced by shuttering all its coal plants in 2014. Ontario’s diminished goal opens a gaping hole in Canada’s work to address the climate crisis.
Worse still, with scant details and no binding commitments to achieve the levels of climate action science demands, most details of the plan have yet to be developed. Phillips has committed to collaborate and consult with stakeholders, including industries to be regulated, in developing new emissions compliance standards on no fixed timeline, while promising exceptions to protect economic competitiveness.
With climate change an increasingly urgent challenge affecting the lives of everyday Ontarians – whether through catastrophic losses from floods and wildfires, or health threats from summer heat waves or rising infectious diseases like Lyme disease – we have no time to squander, and certainly no space to relax our efforts to reduce emissions. As Minister Phillips noted, Ontarians have a solid track record of proving that meaningful climate action is possible. It’s time, now, for the Ford government to step up, for the good of Ontarians, and deliver the climate plan this province needs – a plan that is clear on science-based targets, clear on delivery, clear on our path forward into the new, clean global economy.”
Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, CAN-Rac
“What is being promised here is a major retreat from what was being done to fight climate change in Ontario and isn’t even a shadow of what scientists and doctors say is necessary. Doug Ford may want to sit out the fight against climate change in the hope that someone else does Ontario’s share, but that means we miss out on the jobs, like building electric vehicles, that come with the new green economy while increasing our vulnerability to extreme weather, wildfires and other symptoms of an increasingly chaotic climate. Responsible leadership means tackling issues head-on. Today’s announcement shows that the Ford government can’t or won’t recognize either the threat or the opportunity that climate change and its solutions represent.”
Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada
“Ontario’s new climate change plan fails to give enough details on how exactly the province will actually tackle this critical issue, even as it acknowledges that the threat is real and that climate change is already costing Ontarians hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Most troubling, the plan adopts a weaker greenhouse gas emissions reduction target than Ontario’s previous one. It seems the province is walking away from taking serious action on climate change at a time when scientists say that targets must be strengthened to ward off dangerous levels of warming. Ontario’s new target means roughly 30 megatonnes more pollution in 2030, which is the same amount of pollution Ontario reduced thanks to the coal power phase out. As well, the proposed program to cut pollution from large emitters is so short on details that it’s unclear how it will operate or how it compares to the federal government’s system. Even if more details were provided, the province has missed the deadline set by the federal government for a climate change plan. Industry and all Ontarians need certainty. It’s time to accept that the federal carbon pricing system will apply in Ontario and move on.”
Keith Brooks, Programs Director, Environmental Defence
“The solutions are there to address climate change, but this plan is lacking the political will to get us there. It’s moving us backwards rather than forward.”
Sherry Yano, David Suzuki Foundation
“With the release of the Lancet Countdown Policy Brief for Canada today, the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Public Health Association have declared climate change to be the most dire public health issue of our time. They are both recommending carbon taxes as an essential policy tool that can motivate people to reduce their use of fossil fuels in the same way that tobacco taxes were used to reduce the number of smokers. The Ontario Government should reconsider its position on carbon pricing; its an evidence-based public policy that can work in a cost-effective way.”
Kim Perrotta, Executive Director for the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)
“Canadian and USA climate policies are de facto linked together. Premier Ford should consider that a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend bill similar to Canada’s backstop carbon pricing policy has just been co-introduced to US Congress by Republicans and Democrats. With the predictably rising market signal from pricing pollution, Canada and the USA would be well-poised to capitalize on the $26 trillion in business opportunities in clean technologies without burdening the taxpayer. Read more here.”
Cathy Orlando, National Director, Citizens’ Climate Lobby
“The Province of Ontario’s newly-announced climate plan moves Ontario – and municipalities like Ottawa – backward at a time when world bodies are issuing dire warnings about the urgent need for ambitious climate action. The province’s new plan endangers halting climate progress made by Ontario cities in two ways. First, it starves them of funding for climate change solutions such as transit and building retrofits. Second, it threatens municipal climate plans that rely on price signals from carbon pricing in order to succeed.”
Robb Barnes, Executive Director, Ecology Ottawa
“We need action on climate- fast! This so called plan is taking us backwards – not forwards. It is abandoning those who are young now to a future of a climate destabilization and unnecessary suffering. We can and must do better than this – for the children.”
Lyn Adamson, Co-Chair, ClimateFast
CONTACT: Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, CAN-Rac Canada | +1 902 412 8953 firstname.lastname@example.org
Canada’s primary network of organizations working on climate change and energy issues, CAN-Rac is a coalition of more than 100 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Our membership brings environmental groups together with trade unions, First Nations, social justice, development, health and youth organizations, faith groups and local, grassroots initiatives.
Photo: TIJANA MARTIN/CANADIAN PRESS