Comments by Colleen Lynch on the Peoples Climate Plan

The people of Ontario know acting on climate change is urgent, that we cannot afford to go backwards. As the IPCC report shows, every incremental temperature increase brings with it escalating threats and costs, like more extreme floods and forest fires.

Despite the urgency, the new “Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan” weakens our climate goals by about 30MT, more than the emissions reduced by the coal plant closures. In response, we’ve created the People’s Climate Plan.

Matching Canada’s current targets as proposed, will not keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C. In fact, if everyone followed Canada’s lead, the world would warm a disastrous 4-5°C.

Instead, our People’s Climate Plan asks that we build on our past success and use that momentum to take strong action fully consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.

Ontario’s new environment plan lacks the backbone of details. It fails even to support its own weakened targets. In contrast, we call for a real climate plan - one with clearly specified actions, timelines and commitments.

For Ontario to do its fair share, we need a plan that not only offers incentives and regulatory changes to industry, we need one that helps us all - families, vulnerable populations and small businesses - quickly transition off of fossil fuels.

The People’s Climate Plan proposes a real focus on green transportation choices that are accessible and affordable for Ontarians, including reliable low-carbon public transport, electric vehicles, and active options like cycling. We want policies like reinstating electric vehicle rebates and setting an end-date for new gas-powered cars.

For our buildings, we ask for a plan that creates jobs and saves Ontarians money. We want energy efficiency programs significantly increased and incentives for building retrofits and the adoption of renewable energy restored. We also want the building code modernized now, to ensure net-zero emissions in new builds by 2030.

We want the billions spent on fossil fuel imports and the hundreds of millions spent in subsidies for the industry every year, shifted to actions that reduce GHGs and enable a rapid transition to clean energy.

The People’s Climate Plan proposes that Ontario help skilled workers in construction, manufacturing and transportation secure long-term employment in clean tech, rather than in polluting, fossil-fuel dependent industries that are unreliable job providers.

Moving to green infrastructure now is not just an imperative; it is also a great opportunity. The transition would create thousands of jobs, make our province more resilient, and leave its natural beauty intact for future generations.

The people of Ontario are concerned that we preserve and expand our cherished wilderness and green spaces; our most effective carbon sinks.

Finally, we ask that public money is not misused. Where is the remaining $500 million that was raised in cap-and-trade?

The social cost of carbon needs to be effectively addressed. We question whether regulations on pollution, partly set by polluting industries themselves and with potential exemptions across the board, as stated in the government’s environment plan, will be effective.

Furthermore, the Ontario Carbon Trust resembles the failed Australian model and lacks specifics. The plan to encourage Innovation is also vague. At the same time, funds must be recovered quickly for municipalities, and for projects like school and social housing retrofits and community run renewable energy!

Now is the time to counter the threats of climate change with our best and boldest efforts. We propose that Ontario create a real People’s Climate Plan, one that sets ambitious goals, outlines a clear path to meet them and ensures that the people of Ontario all benefit from a greener, fairer and more prosperous future.