IPCC delivers another wake up call on climate change: the time to act is now

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Climate change is real. Humans are causing it. And things are getting worse, not better. 
Those are the exclamation marks from the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change being tabled today. The Summary for Policymakers was released on Friday. 
 
In response, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, “The heat is on. We must act.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the report is “another wakeup call” and that the science demands “action from all of us.”
 
Elizabeth May has documented the unfortunate silence from the Harper government on the IPCC report. 
 
Here at Queen’s Park, Environment Commissioner Gord Miller in his last annual report on climate change earlier this year said the Liberal government is “Failing our Future” because of the province’s lack of attention to addressing climate change. According to the ECO, the government’s Long Term Energy Plan contradicts and undermines the province’s Climate Change Action Plan, even though Ontario’s coal phase out is an important step in reducing GHG emissions. 
 
Ontario’s total GHG emissions in 2011 were 171 megatonnes (Mt). The three sectors responsible for the largest amount of GHG emissions are transportation (58 Mt), industry (49.6 Mt) and buildings (31.7 Mt). By the government’s own admission, Ontario is not on track to meet its target of 150 Mt by 2020. 
 
Clearly, Ontario needs something better than a patchwork of policies that not only fail to meet GHG reduction targets, but in some cases actually undermine GHG reduction efforts. In short, Ontario needs a climate change plan now if we have any hope of meeting our 2020 targets. 
 
Putting a price on carbon pollution is the most effective and fairest way to reduce emissions. And it could give the economy a boost in more ways than one. Putting carbon revenues back into the economy could help Ontario realize its potential to be a world leader in cleantech innovation and low carbon infrastructure. This would generate wealth and local jobs.
 
Climate change is costing us billions, and the bills will only increase. Failure to act has already destabilized our climate and threatens our competitiveness in the global economy. For those who say we can’t afford to take action on climate change, the evidence is clear: we can’t afford not to act.
 
Our Premier likes to have conversations. So, Premier Wynne, let’s start the conversation about how taking action on climate change can ensure a prosperous, safe, and healthy future for the people of Ontario.