Reducing greenhouse gas pollution in Ontario

Ontario has taken another bold step toward addressing climate change. Premier Kathleen Wynne and Glen Murray, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, announced that the province will be implementing a carbon pricing program that will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in our environment.

Our government is introducing a cap and trade system which will set a limit on the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that industries can emit, and will link Quebec in a carbon trading marketplace to buy and sell credits. Public money raised will be reinvested in a transparent way into projects that reduce GHG emissions, which may include public transit and energy retrofits.

Ontario will be joining 39 national and 23 subnational jurisdictions around the world that have already put a price on carbon.

Following the release of the Climate Change Discussion Paper in February, our government held comprehensive public and stakeholder consultations on how best to price greenhouse gases. More than 1,500 people attended sessions across the province, and more than 300 ideas and 31,000 votes were submitted online. Overwhelming support for a cap and trade program emerged from those discussions.

I want to thank the many constituents and local members of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby who have engaged me on this issue. While some suggested that a fee and dividend system is a simpler and fairer approach, we heard concerns that sufficient GHG reductions may not be attained using that method.

A cap and trade system will reward innovative and low-GHG-emitting companies, provide certainty for industries, and create more opportunities for investment in Ontario in the thriving green tech sector. Ontario is home to 2,700 clean tech firms employing 65,000 people and generating annual revenues of more than $8 billion. Cap and trade will help this industry grow even more.

We are building on the progress we have already made as a province towards reducing emissions, such as closing Ontario’s coal plants, and I greatly welcome the Premier’s announcement. I believe that the social benefits and business opportunities that will come out of environmental action are important to our future. A price on carbon and other GHGs will help companies spur investments, innovation and prepare us for the “low carbon” era.

Throughout the spring and summer, our government will continue to consult with industry and stakeholders on the design of the system.

I encourage you to contact my office with your ideas for implementing a cap and trade system and other opportunities for Ontarians to reduce their GHG emissions. Come by my office at 1821 Danforth Ave. to sign my climate change petition, or request an electronic copy to get your friends and neighbours to sign.

Our community has already seen the costs of inaction: severe weather damaging homes and businesses, increasing food costs and insurance rates. Based on conversations with residents of Beaches-East York, I know that there will be wide support for our government’s concrete steps to address climate change.

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