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

Liberals sadly use Speech from the Throne as thinly veiled campaign kick-off

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QUEEN’S PARK — The Liberals failed to push the reset button today. Instead, they used public funds to prorogue the Legislature and deliver a Speech to the Throne that is really a partisan campaign kick-off dressed up with pomp and ceremony.

“This government has had 14 years to get these things done. Using the word ‘care’ 50 times in one speech doesn’t prove anything,” said Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner. “Ontarians will be judging the Liberals based on their entire record, including a climate change strategy that gives a free ride to the largest polluters.”

Using a speech from the throne to launch a campaign is a poor start for the Liberals.

“There was a mention of climate change, but absolutely no commitment to strengthening the cap-and-trade system so that we can actually meet our Paris climate targets, which our Environment Commissioner has repeatedly said we are far from achieving,” said Tim Grant, GPO candidate for University-Rosedale.

“Ontarians won’t forget the millions wasted on infrastructure and transit decisions that served only to favour Liberal MPPs in their ridings, spending billions on outdated nuclear energy, or choosing infrastructure projects that lock us into further dependence on fossil fuels.” added Grant.

Greens have the vision that this province needs, including:

  1. Building the new green middle class by stimulating the jobs of today and tomorrow in areas like retrofitting, renewable energy, and cleantech.

  2. Supporting people by rolling out a plan to extend the Basic Income Guarantee Pilot.

  3. Addressing the housing crisis by mandating new developments to include one new affordable unit for every five new units built.

The Green Party is committed to delivering change that puts people first.

 

Liberals cannot hide behind Ford’s climate incompetence

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QUEEN’S PARK — The Liberals’ sunny climate change report released today disguises some major problems, even as the climate change clock is ticking. Sure, Doug Ford would be a disaster for the climate and Ontario’s opportunity to create low-carbon 21st century jobs, but that doesn’t mean Ontarians should give Kathleen Wynne a free ride.

“No one in Queen’s Park is holding this government accountable on a weak climate plan that starts and ends with an ineffective cap-and-trade system. The Conservatives have reverted to fear-mongering about carbon pricing, while the New Democrats don’t even think climate change is worth talking about,” said Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner. “Only the Green Party seems to recognize that there is no Planet B.”

The Liberals have trotted out a basket of programs funded by cap-and-trade revenues. Yes, electric vehicle rebates and smart thermostats are important, but they won’t be enough to meet the province’s own targets. And if you look deeper, you’ll find endless government policies that contradict and undermine our greenhouse gas reduction goals.

“Liberals have to stop giving out free pollution permits to the 150 largest polluters if we have any hope of making carbon pricing work to reduce pollution,” said Schreiner. “The Liberals have no plans to phase out natural gas for home heating and continue to make infrastructure decisions that lock us into the burning of fossil fuels for decades to come. We must leap into the future now.”

Canadians are already paying the costs of extreme weather caused by climate change – $4.9 billion in insurable losses in 2016 alone. But for all their talk, the Liberals always seem to side with their friends in industry. The Green Party’s climate plan would end the loopholes for large emitters, ban fracking, and activate a new green workforce. Rather than selling off public assets and pouring billions into expensive and dangerous nuclear power, we would bring our energy system into the 21st century with smart ideas that protect the environment, save money, and create jobs.

“We need strong voices to take the Liberals to task when they choose polluters over people. The Green Party has a real climate action plan that does not tinker on the margins or have the fingerprints of industry all over it,” said Schreiner.

 

Liberal government playing political games with climate innovation

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The climate crisis is too real and too serious for the Liberals to play election games with climate policy.  

Yesterday’s announcement of $300 million to fund ideas for reducing greenhouse gas pollution to be disbursed after the June election is more about politics than about addressing the climate crisis we face. Applications for the funding are due before the election in May, and funding is presumably dependent on re-electing the Liberals.

“People are sick and tired of the political games at Queen’s Park,” said Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner. “We are experiencing the costs of climate change right now and political games won’t solve the crisis.”

The government’s GreenON Challenge amounts to one percent of what the Liberals are wasting on their (un)Fair Hydro Plan to buy their way out of yet another Liberal scandal. If the Liberals were serious about fighting climate change, they would be using the billions they are spending to temporarily lower electricity rates on climate action.

“Borrowing billions to subsidize electricity primarily benefits the rich, undermines the province’s climate goals, and does nothing to fix the mess the Liberals have made of the electricity system,” said Schreiner. “Taking billions away from health care, education, and climate action to buy a Hydro band-aid is a political game that will hurt people and planet. Greens will continue to fight against these kinds of political games.”

The Green Party of Ontario is the only party with a serious and well-planned climate change strategy that will build the low-carbon economy that Ontarians and future generations need.