Ontario Environment Minister Rod Phillips is seeking suggestions from the public on how Ontario can reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Specifically, Minister Phillips wants to create “a balanced solution that puts people first, makes life more affordable for families and takes Ontario’s role in fighting climate change seriously.”

Here are four actions that Minister Phillips can take to reduce our GHG emissions and make life more affordable for families:

1. We can reduce the cost of heating our homes and powering our industries, while taking a big chunk out of greenhouse gas emissions, by directing Enbridge and Union Gas to ramp-up their programs to increase their customers’ energy efficiency. According to a study submitted to the Ontario Energy Board, stronger gas utility energy efficiency programs could reduce their customers’ gas costs by $85 billion, over the life-times of the energy efficiency measures. Natural gas consumption is responsible for one-quarter of Ontario’s total GHG emissions.

2. We can eliminate our electricity-related GHG emissions and lower our electricity bills by billions of dollars per year by saying “yes” to Premier Legault’s offer to sell us low-cost Quebec water power to replace our aging high-cost nuclear reactors. If Premier Ford really does want to reduce inter-provincial trade barriers, this is the perfect place to start.

3. We can ramp up electricity efficiency programs and save electricity at one-eighth the cost of nuclear power. According to an Independent Electricity System Operator study, expanded energy efficiency programs could cost-effectively eliminate the need to re-build four of Bruce Power’s aging nuclear reactors.

4. We can reduce our fastest growing source of emissions by accelerating the electrification of vehicles. Ontario has a big stake in auto manufacturing and we need to be leaders in developing electric vehicle (EV) technology, which is poised to disrupt the conventional auto sector. The Ontario government should find innovative ways to support the development and deployment of EVs in Ontario, while making a deal with Quebec to also ensure that we have low-cost zero emission power to fuel these vehicles.

Does this man have a plan?

The Ford Government has made it clear that it does not support the federal carbon pricing plan. The simplest way to break free of the federal plan is to develop a Made-in-Ontario plan that will achieve the same level of greenhouse gas reductions. The four common sense steps outlined above are the kinds of actions the government needs to quickly embrace if it is serious about addressing climate change.

You can submit suggestions to Minister Phillips by clicking here: https://www.ontario.ca/form/tell-us-your-ideas-climate-change. Deadline is Nov. 16, 2018.

Thank you for making the time to contribute to climate and energy policy.

Angela Bischoff, Director