Ontario’s Climate Plan: A Start But Not Enough

Canadians for Clean Prosperity welcomes the introduction of the Ontario government’s new environment and climate plan, however we feel that it falls far short of what is required to address this serious challenge. Minister Phillips set a target to reduce emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, or 143 megatonnes. This is a significantly reduced ambition compared to Ontario’s previous targets, but it aligns with Canada’s national commitments and it is a realistic goal if the government follows up with real action. However, the measures outlined in the plan do not appear to be sufficient to meet even these reduced goals.

The most effective, lowest cost way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to set an economy wide carbon price – as the federal backstop plan does, and as the previous provincial PC platform would have done.

Rather than spending $30 million of taxpayers’ money to fight the federal climate plan in court, the Ontario government should cooperate with Ottawa to work together to fght climate change. An economy wide carbon price would provide greater incentives to reduce emissions, and implementing the federal carbon backstop would have allowed the province to cut taxes or provide rebates for the vast majority of Ontario families that would be equal to or greater than the increased costs of fossil fuels.

The plan does include a form carbon pricing to reduce emissions in heavy industry through its Emissions Performance Standards. This looks similar to the Output Based Pricing System under the federal plan and in Alberta and Saskatchewan, but the plan provides scant details on how it will work, and what the targets or the price will be.

We are doubtful of some of the plan’s other emissions reductions goals – for example the claims that it will achieve 16% of their emissions reductions from low carbon vehicles and 18% from natural gas conservation measures. There Is little announced in the way of incentives or regulation to achieve these goals. The policies and funding that would be needed to get to these kinds of targets, and to the overall 30% by 2030 target, are not provided in the plan released today.

Minister Phillips indicated that he understands the serious implications of climate change, both globally and here in Ontario where we have already seen an increase in extreme weather events, floods and forest fires in recent years. The Government should therefore be taking more robust action, starting with putting a price on carbon with all of the revenues being refunded to Ontario households and businesses in the form of direct rebates or tax reductions. The plan we have seen outlined today is a start, but it is not nearly enough.

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