Urgent: Province wants to hear your ideas for a made-in-Ontario Climate Plan

By Ginny Colling

Provincially, two of our largest sources of emissions are transportation and buildings.

The Ontario government recently scrapped the province’s Cap and Trade program and is now looking for suggestions, by Nov. 16, as to what they should replace it with. Replace it they must. In early October, the UN’s panel of climate scientists released a report warning that we have 12 years to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels (that’s .5 degrees more than our current warming level).

They discovered that the 1.5 degree target named in the Paris accord will be considerably less catastrophic than the 2 degree upper limit the accord mentions. At another .5 degree we will still have some coral reefs left – and they are the incubators of a significant percentage of ocean fish stock.  At 1.5 degrees we would have 50% more pollinators for our crops, and thus less food insecurity.  Millions fewer people would be exposed to frequent severe heat, water stress and food shortages.  And the world’s economy would be ahead by trillions of dollars.

So the scientists have given us 12 years to reduce our emissions by 45%. What can you do about it? Right now, you can make your feelings known to the province.

Not sure what to say? Here are some points to consider including in your submission:

Listen to the UN’s scientists.  We need policies and programs that will shrink our emissions to 45% by 2030 and help cap the planet’s warming at 1.5 degrees. For instance:

  • Put a price on carbon – perhaps a carbon fee and dividend. The same day we heard about the UN’s report, two economists received the Nobel Prize for economics.  Their work showed that putting a price on carbon pollution would be an effective way to bring down emissions without harming the economy.  And we would need to do that while protecting those most affected, like farmers with no alternatives to gas/diesel-powered equipment.
  • Actively encourage the transition to electric vehicles. Provincially, two of our largest sources of emissions are transportation and buildings. Ontario has been a leader in vehicle manufacturing. We need to keep ahead of the clean economy curve.
  • Seriously consider the Ontario Clean Air Alliance’s suggestion: say “yes” to Quebec’s offer to sell us their low-cost, carbon-free water power. We could eliminate the last of our polluting sources of electricity, reduce the need to replace high-cost, aging nuclear reactors, and provide more electricity for all those electric vehicles.
  • Direct Enbridge and Union Gas to accelerate programs that encourage their customers to conserve energy. It would save everyone money while lowering emissions. Provincially, natural gas accounts for one quarter of our greenhouse gas pollution.
  • Grow our clean economy while ensuring a just transition for all. Clean jobs were already on the upswing in Ontario. During this transition period, some workers will need retraining to adapt. And some sectors will need support to make the transition.

Remember, the deadline for comments is Nov. 16. Submit yours now at this link. It doesn’t much matter what we say in the consultation, but our silence will speak volumes.

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