Putting the brakes on climate breakdown starts with this election
Ginny Colling was passionate about the environment before retiring from teaching college communications students. After retiring she trained with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project and has presented to numerous groups about the climate crisis.
For students, that can mean exams. For teachers, report card deadlines. For accountants, tax season.
For all of us, collectively, the stress test of meeting our climate targets.
The problem is, that deadline can seem nebulous. It’s out there, somewhere, someday. But that someday is looming, and it’s not a deadline you can pull an all-nighter to meet. If we miss it, there’s no fine we can pay to compensate — just eons of penalties.
Two months ago the United Nations warned that climate breakdown is rapidly accelerating and the worst effects will hit us much harder and sooner than originally thought. They already are. Remember the B.C. fires, heat waves and floods of 2021? Costs of those November floods are now approaching $9 billion. And 595 people died of B.C.’s extreme summer heat. In Ontario we don’t see that number of deaths and roads washed out — yet — but we do experience droughts and reduced crop yields. And Lyme-disease bearing ticks. And tree-killing emerald ash beetles. They both like the increased heat.
Climate disruption is a big problem and we have to pass this test. So what can we do? Look to the near future — the provincial election on June 2. We can mark our X beside the candidates and their parties who will help put the brakes on climate breakdown.
To do that, let’s ask our candidates a few pointed questions.
- What would your party do to increase the sales of electric vehicles (EVs) and heat pumps? Burning gas or diesel heats up the planet. Using electric power, not so much — by a long shot. Recent high gas prices are driving up demand for EVs, but the wait for one can be months, if not years. Part of the problem: 70 to 80 per cent of new EVs in Canada go to two provinces, B.C. and Quebec. Why? Both provinces offer rebates to EV buyers and require a certain percentage of car company sales to be electric. In addition to EV rebates, the federal government provides rebates for heat pumps to replace gas or oil furnaces. We need to accelerate those transitions in Ontario.
- What would your party do to produce cleaner power and increase energy conservation? Ontario used to have some of the cleanest power in the country, with as little as four per cent coming from polluting natural gas. Right now, our provincial government plans to ratchet that up to 25 per cent. That flies in the face of national and international goals to cut emissions by almost half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050 to keep global temperatures more livable.
- What would your party do to protect our farmland and natural spaces like forests and wetlands? We don’t just need to reduce carbon emissions; we need to help the natural world store carbon, filter groundwater, protect us from flooding and provide habitat. Our conservation authorities helped by bringing that focus to discussions of new developments. But their powers were hacked away and flood-monitoring ability cut along with their budgets a couple of years ago. Will your party reverse those decisions?
We need those answers by June 2. Crunch time. Because it’s our vote, but it’s our children’s future.