Ontario Needs New Leadership To Lower Emissions

I attended the Environment Commissioner of Ontario (ECO)’s media conference on last Tuesday morning, which reported on the government’s lack of progress on reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

As the ECO highlighted, the government is frank in its admission that Ontario will not meet its 2014 or 2020 GHG targets. Particularly concerning, according to the ECO, is “the fact that GHG emissions are projected to rise between 2014 and 2020.”

The government’s admission of failure is particularly disturbing at a time when world leaders are meeting in Copenhagen to discuss this very topic. Compounding the problem is the lack of a plan from the McGuinty Liberals as to how the province will meet its targets.

It’s time for a strong Green voice to present solutions that address climate change, while promoting economic prosperity, sustainable communities and the health and well being of all Ontarians.

I believe this begins with a Green Tax Cut. It’s a simple idea: If you’re someone who lives green, as many already do, you’ll be rewarded with lower taxes. The Green Tax Cut will be a permanent incentive to go green – it is sustainable stimulus that will spur a wave of job creation in green technologies, products and services, finally placing them on a level playing field. We need to create incentives and reward individuals, business and communities for reducing GHG emissions.

The ECO outlined three critical sectors where better planning for GHG reductions are needed: buildings, transportation and industry. Combined these three sectors represent 73 percent of Ontario’s GHG emissions.

The building sector is where the government should focus its immediate attention. We need an aggressive Green Building Program in Ontario that creates jobs today in trades and construction that save money in terms of vastly increased energy efficiency tomorrow.

As the ECO notes, there is little or no action beyond hopeful speculation that a cap and trade system may eventually reduce industrial GHG emissions. In a high-energy-cost environment, the GPO believes the Green Tax Cut will provide industry with the incentives and rewards to become more efficient and reduce GHG emissions for economic as well as environmental reasons. In addition, Greens support a transition fund to assist the manufacturing sector to create tomorrow’s jobs today in the emerging green economy of the 21st century.

There are many other areas—such as investments in public transit and better development planning—that are needed to address GHG emissions. This government is at least a decade behind the GPO in putting forward bold plans to address climate change. We need action today.

With the proper policy incentives in place, reducing GHG emissions can be profitable and make Ontario’s economy more prosperous moving forward. It’s Time for a strong Green voice to push these policy changes.