Climate change and Ontario politics!

Rod Phillips, the Ontario Environmental Minister, recently stated that “the best approach [to climate change] is to have a plan and then [bring forward] any targets as part of the plan.”  So how does this vague statement of policy fit in with The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change?

Over two years ago,  the Federal Government, the Provinces (except Saskatchewan) and Territories, agreed, after lengthy negotiations, to the Framework. The Framework confirmed Canada’s commitment to the emissions-reduction target under the Paris Agreement, viz, a 30 percent reduction below 2005 levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.  The Framework allowed Provinces to establish reduction infrastructure best suited to their economies.

When the Framework was being negotiated, Saskatchewan refused to put in place measures to reduce GHG emissions as required by the Framework.  The Federal Government had no alternative but to develop a mechanism to come up with an alternative way of dealing with “refuseniks”.

The result: the Government advised that it would impose a Federal Tax on consumptions of carbon fuels in any Province that did not put in place infrastructure to reduce GHG emissions, such as the Ontario and Quebec “cap and trade” plan. This tax would establish an incentive for all Canadians to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels. To avoid political backlash, the Federal Government promised to remit monies collected from the tax to residents in that Province.

As is well known, “cap and trade” has now been abolished as one of the first steps of the new Ontario Government.  So the Federal Carbon Tax will apply to Ontario.

In a recent meeting with the Federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Phillips suggested the federal government is being “dogmatic” by insisting on “the Trudeau carbon tax.”  And he confirmed that Ontario will take the fight over a federally imposed carbon tax to the Supreme Court.  Ontario will join forces with Saskatchewan – which has already commenced a similar legal proceeding in the courts of that province.

Premier Ford claims that the carbon tax “makes Ontario’s economy uncompetitive” but does “nothing for the environment”. Perhaps the Premier is claiming that taxation to lessen the consumption of fossil fuels has no affect on the level of emissions.  If so, he is out on a limb with no way to climb down.  To quote the Ecofiscal Commission – which has studied the issue extensively:

“Our research shows that carbon pricing is the most practical and cost-effective way to lower greenhouse gas emissions while encouraging low-carbon innovation.”

As Guelph’s Green MPP Mike Schreiner observed, Ford’s statements are unsupported by any research on global warming and no economic analysis of the economic impact of the tax. We conclude that the Conservative Government will not support such research but will continue with denials and political statements similar to the remarks of Donald Trump!

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