Letter from Mike Schreiner to Premier-designate Ford about the costs of scrapping climate change action

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Dear Premier-designate Ford:

I am writing to you on the eve of the swearing in of your government on behalf of the Green Party of Ontario, my constituents in Guelph and people from across the province who care about jobs, the environment and our economy.

I want to work with your government to help Ontario create jobs, save money and fight climate change. I was elected to Queen’s Park on a promise to do politics differently, and I am ready to find common ground with you to build this province up in a financially and environmentally sustainable way.

Climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity, and there is an urgency for all of us to act. Fortunately, what is good for our air and our planet is also generating jobs and prosperity.

You yourself acknowledged in the final leaders’ debate that climate change is real and human-caused. I want to believe you when you say this. Yet, since being elected, you have begun to dismantle programs designed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, create jobs and lower utility bills. And you have done this without offering alternative solutions.

I urge you to reconsider this path.

First, the steps you are taking to pull Ontario out of cap-and-trade without a transition plan are reckless and unnecessary. You are creating uncertainty for businesses and risk for the people of Ontario, who could be on the hook for paying back the $2.8 billion in worthless permits purchased by Ontario companies.

By rushing to exit our agreements with California and Quebec, you are stoking the conditions for Ontario to be embroiled in courts battles and you are potentially putting taxpayers on the hook for billions in legal fees, penalties and other costs. Your actions are bearing the hallmark of the gas plant scandal, when decisions were pushed through by ideology and ego rather than logic and evidence.

I ask you to slow down. To consider the costs of your campaign slogans. To give businesses time to adjust. To show us a plan before killing what’s in place.

Second, climate denial – whether explicit or implicit – is bad for business. It is time to accept that pollution pricing works and that we need it to tackle climate change. 80% of economists say that it is the most market-friendly and low-cost option for reducing emissions. And across the world, 67 jurisdictions representing about half of the global economy, are implementing pollution pricing.

There is no evidence to support your talk of ‘job-killing carbon taxes’. In Ontario’s first year of cap-and-trade, unemployment shrunk from 6.4 to 5.5%, and GDP was at a seven-year high. In fact, the four provinces that led the the country in growth in 2017 were the ones with a price on carbon – Ontario, Quebec, BC and Alberta.

Pollution pricing is essential and it is coming, whether by Ontario’s design or by the hand of the federal government. It is time to give up the slogans, accept the facts and put forward a made in Ontario solution.

Third, I am deeply concerned about the message you are sending to businesses and to families. Advanced manufacturing, cleantech innovation, and energy efficiency are where job growth is happening and collectively it represents a $7 trillion global economic opportunity. Ontario’s cleantech sector employs 130,000 people. The corridor between Waterloo-Guelph-Toronto contains 14 of Canada’s top 20 tech companies who are creating the next generation of clean innovation and technology for the rest of the world.

Yet your decision to shut down Ontario’s GreenON rebate programs without notice is causing businesses to reconsider their investments in Ontario. You have told them that we are closed for business.

And to families who want to lower their bills by conserving energy, you have taken money out of their pockets and told them that they must do this alone.

Instead, you are pouring more money down the nuclear drain, costing us $1.1 billion per year to keep Pickering open. These savings could be shared with people. Is this what you meant by “help is on the way?”

If your goal is to create jobs and lower bills, I must ask why you are doing the exact opposite.

Fourth, inaction on climate change threatens our pocketbooks and our safety.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, severe weather such as wildfires, droughts and ice storms caused $4.9 billion in insurable damage in 2016. The last three years have been the hottest on record globally. It is estimated that Toronto will experience an average of 53 days of extreme heat annually in the future, putting seniors, young people and so many more at risk. Last month’s windstorm cost $380 million in damage. Devastating spring floods have become the norm. This is not the future I want for my daughters and I know it is not the future you want for your children either.

I do not need to remind you that Canada is part of the Paris Climate Agreement and obliged to make urgent efforts to keep warming below 1.5C. We are one of the top ten polluters in the world, and yet your actions have signalled that Canada’s largest province doesn’t care.

I hope you are not abandoning Ontario’s GHG reduction targets. These targets matter – to people here in Ontario and to the health of our planet. If the economic case is not enough to convince you, then I hope you will consider our shared moral responsibility to do what is right.

Finally, I believe we have common ground because we can fight climate change and put money in people’s pockets.. You have talked about returning money to taxpayers, and I want to remind you that this can be done with pollution pricing.

For years the Green Party has called for a revenue neutral carbon fee-and-dividend system that returns money back to people through dividend cheques. This gives companies the incentives they need to lower emissions without hurting people with modest and middle incomes. This is a way for you to keep your campaign promise without sacrificing the climate or our children’s future.

And instead of cancelling home energy retrofits altogether, you can replace GreenON with a more transparent and accountable Eco-energy Audit Program similar to the one cancelled by the Liberals. This successful and popular program put money in people’s pockets to improve their home’s energy performance verified by audits.

I hope you will listen to these and other sensible solutions. I want to work with you and the new cabinet.

But I also want to be clear that it is unacceptable for any government in 2018 to act as if the climate crisis doesn’t exist. I am asking for your plan – for a real climate change plan that includes a market-based price on pollution. That supports the clean economy. And that helps people to save money by saving energy.

Climate change is real and we face it together. You can be sure that I will be standing up for this fight every day at Queen’s Park.

Sincerely,

Mike Schreiner
MPP-elect, Guelph
Leader, Green Party of Ontario

Ford’s climate denial is bad for business

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QUEEN’S PARK — Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner issued the following statement in reaction to news that Premier-designate Ford’s first act would be to cancel the province’s cap-and-trade program:

“Doug Ford’s move to cancel a price on pollution is bad for Ontario and bad for business. Canceling pollution pricing without a backup plan unfortunately sends a signal to clean companies that Ontario is not open for business.

It is unfortunate to see Mr Ford’s sloganeering and back-of-the-napkin ideas continuing post-election.

It’s reckless to move Ontario backward on addressing climate change, the greatest crisis facing our planet. To do so in haste without a proper plan is even more irresponsible. It will cost jobs and money, and have negative economic implications for our province.

I continue to be shocked that as a business-person, Mr. Ford is thumbing his nose at the $6 trillion dollar clean economy. Why is he ignoring what is undoubtedly the job creator of the future?

Yes, there are issues with our cap-and-trade program, most of all the exemption for Ontario’s largest polluters. The Green Party plan calls for a gradual phase out of cap-and-trade in favour of a revenue neutral fee-and-dividend system that puts money directly back into people’s pockets.

But the Premier-designate’s plan is to take a sledgehammer to what’s already in place. This does not bode well for other government programs.

I’m eager to ask Mr. Ford how he can square this decision with his acknowledgment in the final leaders debate that climate change is happening and that it is caused by human activity.

Because to date, none of Mr. Ford’s actions or bluster actually tells me that he understands the urgency of the climate crisis or our responsibility to reduce pollution.”

 

Guelph needs Green leadership

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GUELPH, ON — On World Environment Day, we need a green leader now more than ever. One of the few things Doug Ford and Andrea Horwath share in common is a massive blindspot on climate change. It’s one of the main reasons why we need Green MPPs at Queen’s Park.

“Of the two parties fighting for power, one denies that climate change is even a problem, and the other ignores the crisis facing us. Instead of putting forward solutions, both Horwath and Ford are trying to outduel each other to lower gas prices, which does nothing but raise greenhouse emissions. We need real climate solutions that put people first,” said Green Party leader Mike Schreiner.

“On June 8 we will wake up to a Premier for whom climate change is an afterthought. Without strong voices to hold either leader accountable, we will go backward on the biggest crisis of our generation,” he added.

Schreiner was praised in yesterday’s Toronto Sun editorial by Lorrie Goldstein as a real “asset in the legislature, where straight talk on issues like carbon pricing is desperately needed.”

Guelph is Ontario’s green capital, renowned for its community energy plan, water conservation and waste reduction efforts. This kind of vision deserves to be reinforced by an MPP with the same values, an MPP who has dedicated his career to protecting Guelph’s water and who has a real and honest plan for reducing pollution.

In the Sun piece, Goldstein said the Green plan was “head and shoulders above anything the other leaders are advocating.”

But instead of leaping into the future, both the NDP and the PCs are desperately holding onto the old economy.

“Remember it was the NDP who in 2012 wanted to cut the HST from fossil fuels. It was the NDP who in 2014 opposed Wynne’s efforts to raise revenue for public transit, which would have reduced pollution from the biggest GHG emitting sector. And their 2018 platform is mum on emissions and renewable energy targets,” said Schreiner.

If Ontario wants to move the needle on climate, we need Green MPPs applying pressure in Queen’s Park since we know there will be a leadership vacuum at the top.

“I’m asking Guelph voters to think seven generations ahead. We’re on the verge of making history. Ontario is watching and Canada will be watching. Electing a Green MPP can send a message that a new way of doing politics is possible,” said Schreiner.

Schreiner to other leaders: Ontario needs to go 100% renewable by 2050

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TORONTO, ON — Today Mike Schreiner announced the Green Party of Ontario’s target of 100% renewable energy by 2050 and challenged Doug Ford, Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horwath to share their vision for tackling climate change, an issue that all three parties have been silent on.

“I am deeply concerned that climate change is not being mentioned by the other parties in this election. Climate change is real and by ignoring it, the status quo parties are doing damage to our environment and to our economy. Greens will seize opportunities in the $6 trillion dollar clean economy to create jobs and prosperity,” said Mike Schreiner.

Overlooking the Toronto skyline, Schreiner unveiled a $4.18 billion Green Building and Business Program to help homeowners, renters and businesses invest in energy efficiency and conservation to save money by saving energy.

“Statistics show that for every dollar of investment you can create seven times more clean energy jobs than fossil fuel jobs. Greens are ready to leap into the future and embrace twenty-first century jobs in cleantech, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, construction, energy retrofits, and design,” said Schreiner.  

Already, over 1000 cities and regions around the world have committed to being fully powered by 100% renewable energy by 2050, including Schreiner’s home riding of Guelph and Oxford county in southwest Ontario. And yet, the big three status quo parties have shown no vision for making Ontario a climate leader.

“The Liberals completely mismanaged the Green Energy Act, putting corporate interests ahead of communities. Doug Ford is saying he’ll rip out wind turbines. And meanwhile for the NDP, climate change is a complete afterthought. This is why we need Green voices at Queen’s Park to drive the transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Schreiner.

“As a Green MPP, I will be pushing Ontario to follow in the footsteps of my home riding of Guelph. I got into politics to protect my children’s future and this is something I am determined to continue fighting for at Queen’s Park,” added Schreiner.

Bay Street gets it on climate change so why doesn’t Doug Ford?

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QUEEN’S PARK — Evidently Doug Ford did not get into the Earth Day spirit over the weekend, announcing today that his party would scrap carbon pricing. This is a reckless plan that will bring Ontario back to a time when the air was polluted without penalty and asthma rates soared.

Ironically, this comes on the heels of Europe’s largest bank, HSBC, joining a growing list of investors who will no longer invest in coal, oil sands and Arctic drilling projects.

“Ford’s soundbite policies will hurt Ontario’s economy. While HSBC and the financial community move money from dirty fossil fuel projects to cleantech, Ford will drive Ontario backwards,” said Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.

The writing is on the wall. Either we get in front of the transition to a cleaner economy or we risk losing billions in losses from climate change damage. Preliminary estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are that natural disasters last year caused over $300 billion in losses globally, making 2017 the costliest year on record. Bay Street gets it. Why doesn’t Doug Ford?

“Investors are quickly starting to recognize that ignoring climate change will bring markets to their knees. It’s time for governments to follow suit rather than continuing to prop up dying industries,” said Schreiner.

A consensus has emerged that putting a price on carbon pollution is a matter of necessity. And globally the cleantech industry is worth over $1 trillion and growing. Yet these realities seem to elude Mr. Ford, who foolishly believes he can resist the federal mandate of a carbon price in 2019. We can bury our heads in the sand or we can leap into the future now and create good jobs in the new economy.

“We have two status quo parties barely dipping their toes into the new economy. And we have one status quo party denying the new economy even exists,” said Schreiner.

“I will be a strong leader for this transition to the new economy because I know – like Bay Street knows – that a green future and green business is the smartest investment we can make.”

New Democrats absent without leave on environment and climate

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TORONTO, ON – The uninspiring platform released today by the Ontario NDP confirms that protecting the environment is not on the radar of the province’s third party.

“This platform confirms that the New Democrats cannot be trusted on climate action,” said Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner. “Nor does the platform provide a bold vision for how Ontario can leap into the future now to be a leader in cleantech innovation, advanced manufacturing or energy efficiency.”

The platform makes no mention of climate change or the environment in its five changes for the better and buries the few actions it would take in one of thirteen platform sub-categories.

The New Democrats are not shy about emptying the vault for important social issues, but the party is content to starve environmental programs. Absent are any targets for reducing greenhouse gases or increasing renewable energy. The section on jobs makes no mention of seizing opportunities in the low-carbon economy for advanced manufacturing, cleantech, green retrofits and renewable energy. And when it comes to issues like sustainable public transportation, there is nothing bold or visionary.

“Instead of leaping into the future with jobs that put people and the planet first, the NDP platform desperately holds onto an old economic vision that no longer works in the twenty-first century,” said Schreiner.

We need voices at Queen’s Park to take strong positions on the environmental challenges we face. We need MPPs who will stand up to the nuclear lobby, call out Premier Wynne’s free pollution permits to the large companies, and offer a hopeful vision for a clean economy.

“The ideas coming from the NDP barely move the needle, let alone tackle the climate crisis. Tinkering on the margins is just not going to cut it,” added Schreiner.

Green Party stands up for protecting water in Simcoe County

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TINY TOWNSHIP, ON — GPO leader Mike Schreiner visited the site of a controversial quarry project in Tiny Township today. Indigenous and community groups are fighting the renewal application from Dufferin Aggregates that would give them a 10-year extension of their license at the Teedon Pit. ​

“The Ontario government is failing to protect our water. This is unacceptable. I am honoured to be standing alongside water protectors like the Anishinabe Kwewag and Friends of the Waverly Uplands. We must defend our most precious natural resource,” said Schreiner.

Scientists who have tested the water have found it to be some of cleanest ever documented in the world. Local groups have organized before to protect it, mounting successful community opposition in 2011 to stop a controversial landfill proposal known as Dumpsite 41 that threatened the aquifer. Supporting community efforts to stop Dumpsite 41 was one of Schreiner’s first efforts as GPO leader.

“Greens are not against resource development, but it must be safe and responsible. When it threatens our water resources, that’s where we draw the line,” said Valerie Powell, Green Party candidate for Simcoe North.

Greens have successfully spoken out against proposals such as the Melancthon mega quarry in the past. Ontario has some of the weakest rules protecting farmland and water from aggregate extraction.

“We have a responsibility to manage water for future generations, but the current government’s priorities are backwards. When it comes to choosing between industry and people, the Liberals prioritize big industry,” said Schreiner.​

Indigenous leaders and community groups will be gathering tomorrow at the Teedon Pit to raise awareness about their fight. Support water protection in Waverly Uplands by signing the petition: https://www.change.org/p/ontario-ministry-of-the-environment-and-climate-change-protect-the-aquifer-that-holds-the-cleanest-water-in-the-world