On­tario has cred­i­ble climate change plan

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION -

On­tario En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Rod Phillips re­leased a cred­i­ble en­vi­ron­men­tal plan last week out­lin­ing the prov­ince’s re­sponse to climate change and other ma­jor en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

It ad­dresses a broad range of im­por­tant con­cerns be­yond climate change — clean air, clean water, pre­serv­ing wet­lands, ad­dress­ing the dump­ing of raw sewage into lakes and rivers. It says climate change is real and the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment will take steps to mit­i­gate it and help On­tar­i­ans adapt to the se­vere weather ex­tremes it will cause.

Now they need to im­ple­ment it. Po­lit­i­cally, the plan is a re­sponse to Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s de­ci­sion to im­pose a manda­tory fed­eral car­bon tax on On­tario on Jan. 1.

That’s be­cause Pre­mier Doug Ford scrapped the pre­vi­ous On­tario Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s cap-and-trade car­bon pric­ing scheme, a car­bon tax by an­other name.

On­tario, along with other prov­inces, is now chal­leng­ing Trudeau’s right to im­pose his tax on the prov­ince, to be de­cided in the courts.

The rel­e­vant point is this is all just po­lit­i­cal theatre. Here’s why:

Phillips said that, un­like Canada un­der the Trudeau Lib­er­als, On­tario un­der the Ford PCs will meet the prov­ince’s 2020 and 2030 emis­sion re­duc­tion tar­gets.

(A United Na­tions’ re­port this week said Canada is fail­ing to meet the emis­sion cuts Trudeau agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate ac­cord.)

But it doesn’t mat­ter if On­tario reaches those tar­gets, which are only achiev­able be­cause the pre­vi­ous Lib­eral pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment — at hor­ren­dous pub­lic ex­pense — elim­i­nated the use of coal to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity.

And it wouldn’t mat­ter if Trudeau met Canada’s tar­gets, which he won’t.

First, On­tario’s emis­sions are only 0.4 per cent of global emis­sions and Canada’s, 1.6 per cent. We’re bit play­ers and while Canada’s emis­sions have dropped slightly in re­cent years, global emis­sions are still ris­ing.

Sec­ond, the UN now says to avert catastrophic global warm­ing, Canada and the rest of the world will have to do three to five times as much to re­duce emis­sions as they agreed to in the Paris ac­cord in 2015.

That’s im­pos­si­ble — al­though that doesn’t mean we don’t ad­dress climate is­sues.

But the real story here is the climate de­bate is no longer about the en­vi­ron­ment. It’s about money — who’s go­ing to pay for this new tax Trudeau is im­pos­ing on in­dus­trial emis­sions?

And we al­ready know who that will be — us.

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