Gold­stein’s as­sump­tions are wrong

The Chatham Daily News - - OPINION -

Lor­rie Gold­stein’s lat­est col­umn (Chatham Daily News, “Cap and trade gives gov­ern­ment a slush fund”) be­trays his skewed view of On­tario’s Cli­mate Change Ac­tion Plan. Like the skep­tics be­fore him, his sweep­ing as­sump­tions are wrong and need to be cor­rected.

On­tario res­i­dents I talk with don’t dis­pute that cli­mate change is real and that it’s hap­pen­ing. They want a pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment that sup­ports their de­sire to re­duce the amount of pol­lu­tion we are re­leas­ing into the air. With the fed­eral gov­ern­ment man­dat­ing a car­bon price by 2018, we’re tak­ing a lead with our plan to guar­an­tee re­duc­tions at the most eco­nom­i­cal price pos­si­ble.

In this fight, it’s not good enough to sit idly by. That’s why every dol­lar col­lected from our cap on pol­lu­tion and car­bon mar­ket must be rein­vested into projects that fight cli­mate change. Our plan will in­vest up to $1.9 bil­lion per year to cut pol­lu­tion, cre­ate good clean lo­cal jobs and re­duce our de­pen­dency on im­ported fos­sil fu­els. Whether it’s for home im­prove­ments to lower en­ergy bills or new fur­naces in pub­lic schools to im­prove en­ergy efficiency and the com­fort of our kids, On­tar­i­ans are see­ing these in­vest­ments in ac­tion. Other ini­tia­tives, like so­cial hous­ing up­grades, in­creased cy­cling paths, and smart ther­mostats will also help lower bills and emis­sions. By law, we are re­quired to re­port back on these in­vest­ments every year. Cit­i­zens can track our progress.

We know our plan is dif­fer­ent from the ex­pen­sive car­bon tax some pre­fer. But we also know it’s bet­ter. As On­tario’s in­de­pen­dent En­vi­ron­men­tal Com­mis­sioner said in her an­nual re­port, “putting a price on car­bon by it­self would not be enough to achieve On­tario’s re­duc­tion tar­gets… On­tario needs com­ple­men­tary emis­sion re­duc­tion mea­sures.” It’s these ad­di­tional in­vest­ments which sep­a­rate our plan from the rest.

Com­pare our plan to the pro­vin­cial Con­ser­va­tives’ car­bon tax scheme. Expert third-party anal­y­sis from En­viro-Eco­nomics shows it would cost fam­i­lies four times more with­out guar­an­tee­ing any re­duc­tions. Worse, the Con­ser­va­tives would put an end to the im­por­tant in­vest­ments we’re mak­ing right across the prov­ince – ones that con­sumers and busi­ness are keen to adopt. In­ef­fi­cient, in­ef­fec­tive and un­af­ford­able – that’s how you would de­fine the Con­ser­va­tive scheme that costs more but does less.

We’ve con­sulted with On­tar­i­ans and we know that fight­ing cli­mate change re­spon­si­bly is some­thing they want. I would en­cour­age you to read our Cli­mate Change Ac­tion Plan and make up your own mind about our plan to cap pol­lu­tion and in­vest in low-car­bon choices for res­i­dents and busi­nesses.

Chris Bal­lard Min­is­ter of the En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change

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