Recently,Â the International Panel on Climate Change released its third and final reportâ€”highlighting steps the world can take to keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levelsâ€”and maybe even keep the dream of 1.5 alive.Â
On that list was a range of things countries need to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissionsâ€”something Ontario hasnâ€™t done a great job of lately. Since the Progressive Conservatives took office in 2018, emissions have actually increased in Ontario.
We are headed in the wrong direction, and the current governmentâ€™s plan to get us back on course is falling dismally short. The original plan, which was created in 2018, was designed to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030â€”as outlined in the Paris Climate Accord. That would involve reducing Ontarioâ€™s annual CO2 emissions by 17.6 megatonnes (MT) by 2030.Â
After looking at the plan, however, Ontarioâ€™s Auditor General determined it wasnâ€™t â€œbased on sound evidence or sufficient detailâ€ and wasnâ€™t likely to achieve its proposed emission-reduction target. Almost four years later, the Ford governmentâ€™s existing climate plan is only on pace to reduce emissions by 3.4 MTâ€”not the 17.6 MT promised or needed. (source)
The ineffective climate plan is just one example of how the Ontario government has not made climate change a priority–but there are countless others. Consider, since 2018, the government has:
- Tried to push through more highwaysâ€”like Highway 413, which, if passed, would pave over 59 kilometres of undeveloped farmland, put more cars on the road and ramp up pollution even further.
- Used an exorbitant amount of Minister Zoning Orders (MZOs)â€”a tool traditionally used for emergenciesâ€”to pave over green space and accelerate controversial development projects by bypassing expert analysis and public input.Â
- Introduced Schedule 6, which allows the government to force conservation authorities to issue development permits even if the projects go against the best interests of people, infrastructure and the environment.Â
- Passed Bill 197â€”an omnibus bill thatâ€™s actually expected to accelerate environmental destruction and increase greenhouse gas emissions. (source)
- Implemented energy plans that are expected to increase electricity emissions by 7 MT by 2030 (source).
What can we do?Â
If these facts cause your climate anxiety to flare up, rest assuredâ€”thereâ€™s still time to change course. But it will require us to make climate a real election issueâ€”and make our voice heard by voting for parties with strong climate plans (and a solid track record of sticking to them).
According to the IPCC report, the world could slash its GHG emission by 40-70% by 2050 if our local governments would just implement the right policies, infrastructure and technologies to inspire a swift change in lifestyle and behaviours. The good news: many of the IPCCâ€™s recommendations can already be found in the Ontario Greens policies.
Our climate plan is the most comprehensive of all the parties. It outlines practical ways we can â€œcreate compact, walkable cities,â€ transition to a green economy and protect the carbon-sequestering power of nature.
And since taking office in 2018, Mike Schreiner has proven just how much traction one Green MPP can make on the climate front. Mike has helped fight to preserve Ontarioâ€™s wetlands, and he has pushed to curb sprawl by proposing an expansion to the Green belt (and further protection for the Paris Gault Morraine). He has also worked hard for all-way two-way GO service and inter-regional transit and supported electric vehicle owners by passing the first piece of Green legislation. To learn more about how the Ontario Greens plan to push Queenâ€™s Park in a climate-friendly direction, read our climate policy atÂ www.gpo.ca/climate.