Ontario’s upcoming election will determine whether our province will be part of the climate change solution.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report concluded that the world needs to cut greenhouse emissions in half by the end of this decade to avoid total climate breakdown. So decisions made in the next few years will have far-reaching consequences for the planet.
This is why it is absolutely necessary that we elect a legislature that will ensure Ontario does its part to bring down greenhouse gas emissions, especially because it’s the second largest polluting province in Canada.
But Ontario has been going in the opposite direction. After having phased out coal and successfully decreased pollution between 2005 and 2017, emissions started to rise again in 2018 – when the current government came into power. And its policies since have not helped to turn the tide.
The current Ontario Government’s record
- One of the first things the current government did when it took office was rip up 758 renewable energy contracts including wind and solar projects that were already under construction. That renewable energy could have helped reduce the province’s greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, emissions increased.
- A year ago the government further deprioritized renewable energy with a bill that made it harder for green energy projects to get built.
- Instead of developing renewable energy, Ontario Power Generation purchased three gas plants and plans to use more gas-generated power in the coming years. If this plan remains in place, emissions from gas plants would rise 600% by 2040.
- Immediately after getting into office, the government scrapped Ontario’s cap-and-trade system which was supposed to incentivize companies to decrease their emissions. The province then fought against the Federal carbon price for industry (and lost) and developed its own weaker carbon pricing model.
- You may recall that the government also canceled the Drive Clean Program, the mandatory test that ensured vehicle emissions weren’t going through the roof.
- Instead of trying to limit emissions from vehicles, the government has been promoting new mega highways like Highway 413 which would add 17 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (and not even resolve congestion).
- The government claims it can reduce transportation emissions by shifting to electric vehicle (EV) use. But early in its term, the government scrapped existing EV buyer incentives, after which sales plummeted. It also tore up incentives for homeowners to install charging stations, removed a requirement for buildings to install EV charging stations, and even ripped out public charging stations that were already in use.
- Late last year the government suddenly changed its mind and announced funding to support the installation of charging stations. But in the absence of provincial EV incentives to help make them more affordable, it will take a long time for EVs to become the dominant vehicle in Ontario.
- In recent months, the government has also announced plans to support the manufacturing of EVs and EV batteries in Ontario. But the plan is to source the mineral inputs from the Ring of Fire region, a controversial development plan that several Indigenous communities say could desecrate their lands. This mega mining project would also destroy the area’s precious peatlands – a natural carbon storage system.
Climate Change policies
The result of these policy choices is that the province is far from meeting its own meager climate target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 (below 2005 levels). Let’s remember that the Federal target is a 40-45 percent reduction, and that what we actually need is closer to a 60 per cent reduction to do our share to avoid global catastrophic climate change.
This is totally doable. Ontario could dramatically reduce emissions by:
- Phasing out gas plants
- Investing in renewable energy projects
- Canceling destructive mega highways
- Expanding public transportation
- Bringing back energy efficiency programs and funding
- Strengthening the pollution price system for big industry
We reached out to the major parties to ask about their commitments to these types of policies. You can check out this website to see their positions and decide for yourself which party will deliver the climate policies we urgently need.
You can also take the pledge to Vote For The Environment to commit to actually voting on election day – with the environment in mind.
And finally, if you’re in Southwestern Ontario, you can join us at Emergency in Ontario: Rally for Climate, Communities and Nature! on Saturday, May 14th to show all parties that the climate and environment are key election issues for Ontarians.
This June we have an opportunity to put Ontario on a responsible and sustainable path. Let’s make sure this happens!