‘Carbon trust’ replaces cap and trade
The province will commit $ 400M to the fund over four years and will be bankrolled by taxpayers THESTAR. COM/ POLITICS
Ontario’s new climate change plan creates a $400 million “carbon trust fund” bankrolled by taxpayers to encourage investment in clean technologies — and gives tips on preventing basement floods.
The province will commit the money over four years and bolster it with penalties paid by polluters to help spur at least $1 billion in private-sector investment in commercially viable solutions to fighting greenhouse gas emissions, Environment Minister Rod Phillips said Thursday.
His blueprint follows months of criticism from environmentalists after Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives signalled Ontario’s withdrawal from a cap- and- trade alliance with California and Quebec, which raised $1.9 billion from polluting industries for climate change initiatives.
Phillips called that “an ineffective, regressive carbon tax” as he unveiled the new measures at the Cold Creek Conservation Area in Nobleton, north of Toronto.
He insisted Ontarians have already done the “heavy lifting” in Canada to reduce emissions by phasing- out coal- fired power plants with resulting high electricity bills.
“It’s a plan that balances a healthy environment with a healthy economy — most importantly, we will do this without imposing a carbon tax,” Ford wrote on Twitter.
“It contains solutions that will protect our air, land and water, reduce waste, address litter, increase our resilience to climate change and help us all do our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Phillips.
The plan won kudos for proposing a climate change impact assessment so Ontarians can understand risks and costs they face, and providing incentives for investments through income deferrals.
But it was widely panned by environmental groups for a lack of details.
Greenhouse gas emission standards and penalties for exceeding them, for example, will be decided later in consultations with industries, a process that Phillips said will involve “a negotiation” with companies emitting C02.
“The plan released today contains mainly aspirational statements and plans to make plans, without seriously demonstrating how the government will lead Ontario to a low- carbon economy,” said Robin Edger of the Pembina Institute, an energy conservation think tank.
New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns called it a “fairy tale” that won’t ensure Ontario meets Paris Agreement greenhouse gas reduction targets over the next 11 years, as Phillips insisted it would.
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the carbon trust model is “unproven” and the plan appears to ignore recent dire warnings about the dangers of not accelerating the fight against climate change.
“Asking citizens to pay polluters and setting up burdensome new regulations will only cost more and delay action,” he warned.
Ford’s move to kill cap and trade, while lowering gasoline and natural gas prices, has exposed Ontario to the federal carbon pricing plan, against which the province has earmarked $30 million to wage a court battle.
“I’m hopeful that when they see that we are going to hit the targets that they agreed to, the 2030 Paris targets … this dogma about having to have a carbon tax won’t be as important,” said Phillips.
But federal Environment Minister Catherine Mckenna quickly signalled that is not likely.
“Premier Ford is going backwards,” Mckenna said. “Any serious climate plan includes a price on pollution. When pollution is free, there will be more of it.”
“IT’S A PLAN THAT BALANCES A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT WITH A HEALTHY ECONOMY.”
Premier Doug Ford
Ontario Environment Minister Rod Phillips says the government’s climate change plan has the right balance between a healthy environment and a healthy economy.