Ot­tawa, On­tario spar over cli­mate plan

The Niagara Falls Review - - Canada & World - ROBERT BENZIE Toronto Star

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,

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