From ice storms that threaten to freeze us in our homes, to flooding that GO train passengers have to swim from to escape, extreme weather is hitting harder and closer to home. It’s impacting Ontario residents, businesses, and cities. It’s clear that climate action is needed – and it’s needed now.

The good news is that the Ontario government recently released its climate change discussion paper. This is an important first step in a process to craft a made-in-Ontario strategy and action plan to address climate change, to be released later in 2015.

Ontario has shown climate leadership in the past.  Our province is a North American leader in wind and solar power, and has cut greenhouse gas emissions more than any other province. Ontario’s closing of its coal-fired electricity plants by 2014 was the single largest climate change initiative in North America.

Now it’s committed to do more. And it’s up to all of us to encourage Ontario to go further and faster.

 

The Province’s discussion paper starts the conversation on how to meet its climate change targets while fostering prosperity. Its central themes include reducing greenhouse gas emissions in key sectors, transitioning to a clean economy by supporting transformative science, research and technology, making Ontario more resilient to the impacts of climate change, and putting a price on carbon to encourage and invest in clean technology, renewable energy, and efficiency and conservation.

We released a primer a couple weeks back that suggests some of the things the province should do if it is serious about cutting carbon. Ontario’s emissions reduction targets are achievable and can be met in a way that creates a vibrant clean economy.

We’ll be providing feedback as Ontario develops its climate change strategy. Here are some initial thoughts on what Ontario’s climate change strategy must include:

 

  • A robust and incrementally rising price on carbon that encourages all sectors of the economy—transportation, industry, buildings, electricity, agriculture, and waste—to drive down greenhouse gas pollution;

 

 

  • Strong measures to increase energy efficiency and conservation by industry, businesses, and consumers;

 

 

  • Investments in and expansion of renewable energy, public transit, and clean technologies;

 

 

  • The use of best practices in agricultural management to turn Ontario’s cropland and pastures from carbon source to carbon sink;

 

 

  • Improved waste management practices that reduce emissions and reuse methane at landfill sites for power production;

 

 

  • Smart land use and transit planning that protect Ontario’s forests and farmland, prevent urban sprawl and encourage more walkable, transit-friendly communities;

 

 

  • Investments in research and technology that prepare Ontario for the negative impacts of climate change;

 

 

  • Consideration of climate impacts in all future policies and plans, starting with the upcoming review of the Greenbelt Plan,

 

 

  • A robust system of monitoring, compliance and enforcement to make sure that polluters pay.

 

 

To tackle Ontario’s climate challenge and build a vibrant, 21st century clean economy, we need all hands on deck. We need to ensure that Ontario’s strategy is fair to individuals, workers and communities; that carbon pricing and GHG emissions reductions are transparent and predictable; and that the action plan delivers tangible economic and environmental benefits.

You can take action to ensure that these principles are part of Ontario’s climate change strategy. Now’s your chance to have your say.

Tell Ontario we don’t need to choose between a healthy environment and a clean economy. Tell the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change to make Ontario a leader in tackling climate change and building a clean economy.

You can also attend in-person consultations across the province until March 19th. And you can share your ideas, see what others are saying, and vote on ideas at this consultation website.

Whichever ways you choose to participate, now’s the time to make your voice heard if you want Ontario to be a leader in climate action.

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