Ottawa, Ontario spar over climate plan
Premier Doug Ford’s scrapping of cap-and-trade could add the equivalent annual pollution of 30 coal-fired power plants within a dozen years, a new federal government analysis concludes.
The findings obtained by the Toronto Star warn that Ford’s decision to end Ontario’s environmental alliance with Quebec and California might lead to 48.8 million tonnes of additional carbon emissions each year by 2030.
“To put that in real terms, this is equivalent to the carbon pollution from over 30 new coal-fired plants,” federal Liberal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna wrote to provincial Progressive Conservative Environment Minister Rod Phillips.
But Phillips, who is part of the Ford government’s constitutional challenge against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbonpricing system, countered McKenna’s claim.
“Your letter suggests our government’s elimination of capand-trade will significantly increase carbon pollution,” the Ontario minister wrote Thursday.
“I reject that assertion outright, as it suggests Ontario will have no plan going forward, which is not the case,” he said.
“We understand that climate change is real, that human beings have an impact on the climate, and that, collectively, we must take action.”
But McKenna pointed out that by axing cap-and-trade, which generated $1.9 billion to the province to fund environmental initiatives like subsidizing electric cars and retrofitting homes and offices, emissions will increase.
The federal analysis is based on the fact that without the previous greenhouse gas reduction measures, Ontario’s planned target of 114.2 million tonnes of emissions for 2030 will be closer to 163 million tonnes, a difference of 48.8 million tonnes.
But Ottawa’s contention presumes the new government, which is expected table its own climate change plan later this year, would do nothing to curb emissions.
“That represents almost double the pollution that was eliminated through Ontario’s celebrated coal phase-out, completed under the previous government, which saw smog days across the province drop from 53 to zero,” said McKenna, referring to former Liberal premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne.
“We need to understand as soon as possible how your government will address the projected 48-million-tonne increase in pollution that the previous Ontario government had a plan to reduce,” the federal minister wrote Wednesday.
In response, Phillips said “it is clear that our governments disagree on the merits of the carbon tax.”
“However, there is common ground in acknowledging the need to proactively address climate change. This includes working together and with our provincial-territorial partners through the Pan-Canadian Framework,” the provincial minister said.
Phillips noted the Tory government was elected June 7 “with a mandate from the people of Ontario to conclude the province’s cap-and-trade program.”
“As we have discussed, our opposition to carbon taxation does not indicate a lack of commitment to address climate change.”
Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna,