(Brickworks, Toronto): GPO leader Mike Schreiner made the following statement on the Climate Change Action Plan for Ontario:
“The risks and costs of climate change are real today and will only increase tomorrow. Ontario needs bold action to reduce carbon pollution and seize opportunities in the low carbon economy.
After years of dragging their feet, the Ontario government has finally delivered a climate plan. The Liberals have listened to many of the GPO’s ideas on moving to a low carbon economy, but their plan needs to address some serious shortcomings to succeed.
We at the GPO want the climate plan to work. And we are going to do everything possible to push the Liberals to avoid the challenges that plague this government when it comes to actually making things happen.
First, Greens will push the government to avoid picking winners and losers. The roll out of the climate plan needs to empower people and businesses in the marketplace to make the best choices for lowering their carbon footprint.
We will fight against any backroom deals that undermine the climate plan like the Liberals have done in the past with the Endangered Species Act, for example.
Second, the plan needs to be fair to be effective. The Liberal’s cap-and-trade plan gives over 100 of Ontario’s largest polluters a free ride. Handing out free pollution permits undermine the effectiveness and integrity of the cap-and-trade system.
This needs to change. There is no economic argument for handing out so many free pollution permits.
The climate action plan also hands out most of the revenue to big business, not people. Business can help drive change for sure, but we also need to make individual choices on how to lower our carbon footprint. The Liberals have failed to get this balance right.
Finally, the plan needs accountability and transparency. Unlike the GPO’s revenue neutral carbon fee-and -dividend plan, cap-and-trade requires a big bureaucracy to work.
I am committed to making sure this plan gets the right checks in place so the wrong hands stay out of the cookie jar.”