Ontario Government Launches Climate Change Discussion Paper

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Citizen-based lobby group applauds Ontario Government’s public engagement on greening the economy

Hundreds of citizen climate lobbyists to participate in new discussion paper to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

(Sudbury, ON) – Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) applauds the government of Ontario for initiating public discussion on plans to transition Canada’s largest province to a clean energy economy. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change released Ontario’s Climate Change Discussion Paper in Toronto yesterday. CCL encourages Ontarians to participate by reviewing the paper and providing feedback.

The discussion paper invites citizens, businesses and communities to share ideas about how to successfully fight climate change while fostering economic growth and keeping our businesses competitive. The paper is available on the Minister of Environment and Climate Change’s website.

“The Ontario Government is demonstrating great leadership in tackling the climate crisis,” says Cathy Orlando, National Manager of CCL Canada. “We look forward to engaging in the feedback process, particularly on carbon pricing, which will be an essential tool in reducing greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate disruption, while helping to diversify the economy and advance the province’s clean technology sector.”

Ontario is home to 35 percent of Canadian clean technology firms.  According to Analytical Advisors, an Ottawa-based firm that monitors Canada’s clean technology sector, sales in B.C.’s clean technology industry increased by 48 percent in two years after the introduction of the province’s revenue neutral carbon tax in 2008.

About Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is a growing organization of more than 250 local volunteer chapters in Canada, the U.S., and worldwide that are pressing for progressive climate legislation. CCL is active in more than 25 ridings in Ontario. Currently, CCL citizen volunteers lobby representatives to support the carbon pricing mechanism, Carbon Fee and Dividend, and to end subsidies to fossil fuel companies. The former puts a direct fee on carbon-based fuels at the source, providing a market signal to invest in clean energy technology, while returning the fee’s revenue to citizens in the form of regular payments. CCL was founded in 2007 in California by Marshall Saunders, a recipient of the Grameen Foundation Humanitarian Award.

To learn more about CCL, visit: citizensclimatelobby.ca

In The Forecast: More Extreme – and Expensive – Weather Events

Montreal Quebec was hit by a short but fierce rainstorm on Tuesday, doing millions of dollars worth of damage to homes and businesses.  The Montreal Gazette reported:

Montreal firefighters answered more than 900 calls during Tuesday afternoon’s cloudburst that dumped as much as 70 mms. of rain on this city in the space of 30 minutes, Mayor Gérald Tremblay said on Wednesday.

“The calls concerned electrical problems, 98 cases of flooding, checking alarm systems,” Tremblay told reporters during briefing at city hall. “There 1000 calls to the 3-1-1 (information line) concerning the sewage system and, at the moment, 31 claims (for damages) have been filed against the city.”

While Mayor Tremblay cited a similarly damaging flash flood 25 years ago, Montreal city councillor Marc-André Gadoury disagreed, saying that the city has not been taking into account the climate change that’s been going on for the past 10 years.

When the mayor says it’s a once a 100-year event I’m surprised. We went through this in 2009, in 2008 … I don’t have to go back to the flood of ‘87 for examples.

When will the realization of the enormous financial burden climate change will be to our urban and rural infrastructures hit home? It certainly is going to hit every single taxpayer in the pocket book, and that’s not counting the horrible cost in human lives, particularly for those in the global village already living on the edge.

The International Energy Agency is on record saying that globally, we have five years to change our fossil-fuel dependent economy to one that is based on renewables before our burning of fossil fuels tips us into climate catastrophe.  Ontario’s Environment Commissioner said recently, “We have an infrastructure built for a climate we no longer have.”  In a March 12 report, Climate Policy in Ontario: Getting Locked-Out By Being Locked-In, the Commissioner wrote:

The IEA calculated the amount of GHG emissions that could be emitted over the next several decades while still having a likely chance of meeting the internationally agreed target of limiting global temperature rise to less than 2°C. This is the carbon budget that needs to be managed in order to avoid the most dire predictions, such as extreme sea level rise and mass extinctions. Shockingly, the IEA found that existing and planned capital stock (power generation, buildings, transportation and industry) will emit 80 per cent of that budget and that, without a clear economic signal to direct development towards a low-carbon path the entire carbon budget will be eaten up in just five years.  As we wait to embark on a low-carbon pathway for reasons of economic expediency, fossil-fuel infrastructure continues to be built and planned. Within Ontario, the Long-term Energy Plancalls for several new natural gas power plants over the next 20 years. It is precisely this type of fossil-fuel infrastructure that will need to be mothballed early (or undergo costly retrofits to capture the GHGs emitted) if we hope to keep the planet within its budget. Given the capital expense that goes into such infrastructure, it is unlikely that governments would be willing to make such politically unpalatable moves.

The IEA information illustrates the critical link between climate adaptation and mitigation.  As Ontario moves forward, we need to plan so that our children can live within the atmospheric budget using infrastructure networks that can cope with an uncertain future climate.  If we fail to accept this challenge we risk condemning our children to live in a less prosperous world.  Policy options exist to avoid this fate, including: aggressive energy efficiency; investment in renewable energy; a focus on climate resilience in the building code; and a move towards comprehensive carbon pricing to direct investment towards the low-carbon path. There is no time to wait.

Thunder Bay last weekend, Montreal on Tuesday – where next? Your neighbourhood or mine?



More links:

Environment Commissioner: Ontario Not Ready For Heavy Costs Of Climate Change

Climate Change Will Cost Canada Billions: Report

Montreal Mops Up After Rainstorm Lashes Region

IEA: World Energy Report

Australia Leads In Climate Fight, Passes Carbon Tax

Australia’s Senate passed a comprehensive carbon pricing scheme yesterday, to the applause of members of the public who were present. Australia is one of the world’s worst greenhouse gas emitters per capita because of its heavy reliance on abundant reserves of coal to generate electricity. The country is also on the front lines of climate change. Who can forget the horribly destructive Queensland floods in January of this year, or the wildfires in 2009 that killed hundreds and destroyed thousands of homes?

Like Citizens Climate Lobby, I believe that the easiest way to put a price on carbon pollution is a carbon fee and dividend bill, but I am definitely not going to slam this historic legislation, which is a huge step in the right direction. To read more about how carbon fee and dividend works, go to Building a Green Economy: The Economics of Carbon Pricing and The Transition To Clean, Renewable Fuels.

From The Guardian:

Australia’s parliament has passed landmark laws to impose a price on carbon emissions in one of the biggest economic reforms in a decade, giving fresh impetus to December’s global climate talks in South Africa.

The scheme’s impact will be felt right across the economy, from miners to LNG producers, airlines and steel-makers and is aimed at making firms more energy-efficient and push power generation towards gas and renewables.

Australia accounts for just 1.5% of global emissions, but is the developed world’s highest emitter per capita due to a reliance on coal to generate electricity.

Australia’s finance minister, Penny Wong, told the upper house Senate as she wrapped up the marathon debate:

Today marks the beginning of Australia’s clean energy future. This is an historic moment, this is an historic reform, a reform that is long overdue.”

Deutsche Bank carbon analyst Tim Jordan stated:

This is a very positive step for the global effort on climate change. It shows that the world’s most emissions-intensive advanced economy is prepared to use a market mechanism to cut carbon emissions in a low-cost way.”

More links:

Australian Senate Passes Carbon Tax

Building A Green Economy: The Economics of Carbon Pricing and The Transition To Clean, Renewable Fuels.

Australia Passes Carbon Tax On Big Polluters

Climate News: Carbon Pricing in Australia And Oil Orgies In Britain

Yesterday Australia took a huge step toward a clean energy economy and tackling climate change. The Australian House of Representatives passed the Government’s package of 19 bills setting up a carbon pricing scheme from July 1, 2012 by a vote of 74 to 72. Now that’s cause for celebration!

photo: 350.org

Meanwhile, some governments, including our own, haven’t connected the dots between acting on climate change and economic prosperity. Across the pond, UK Climate activists crashed a love-in between the UK & Canadian governments and the fossil fuel industry:

Protesters interrupted the Canada-Europe Energy Round table in London yesterday, to expose the UK government’s opposition to the European legislation that would label tar sands oil as highly polluting. The campaigners stripped down to Union Jack boxers and maple leaf underwear and covered each other with oil while kissing and groping in a provocative ‘oil orgy’.

We interrupted the Energy Round table today because the UK and Canadian governments’ flirtations are developing into friends with benefits. This seedy relationship puts profits for the oil industry and banks ahead of much needed legislation which will curb emissions from transport fuel in Europe,” said UK Tar Sands Network campaigner Emily Coats.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/30373841]

Since PM Cameron’s visit to Canada last month, the UK government has been echoing the position of the Canadian government that the EU is ‘unfairly discriminating’ against the Canadian tar sands. Contrary to Canada’s claims that the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) will discriminate against the tar sands, the current FQD proposal also includes values for other unconventional oil feed stocks, such as shale oil .

 “The UK government is supporting sleazy Canadian lobbying efforts and today’s  Energy summit shows just how intimate they have become to promote the tar  sands industry,” said climate campaigner Peter Templeton.

Despite extensive lobbying by the Canadian government over the last year, last  Tuesday the European Commission announced its recommendation that tar  sands fuel should be assigned an accurate value in order to account for the  higher emissions caused by tar sands extraction.

A Canadian government body proved that tar sands extraction is very filthy, yet  the Harper government is increasing extraction of bitumen without full scientific  knowledge of the impacts on the local environment and the global climate,” said  Coats.

In the upcoming weeks the UK will continue to receive Canadian officials as Canada attempts to secure the UK as an ally to stall the FQD directive, which has already received extensive support from the EU commission. The controversial UK government support for the Canadian tar sands industry has received disapproval and outrage from UK climate activists, which shall escalate as the relationship deepens.

For more, go to Act For Climate Justice