According to Environment Minister Rod Phillips, Ontario should weaken its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets for three reasons:
1. Ontario’s coal phase-out has raised the electricity bills of a typical residential electricity consumer by $33 per month
2. We have already done our share to address climate change
3. Achieving the previous government’s climate targets will harm our economy
Fortunately, none of Minister Phillips’ assertions is correct.
In 2002, Ontario’s previous PC Government committed Ontario to a complete coal phase-out by 2015 because it realized that this was the lowest-cost option to end Ontario’s air pollution public health crisis (i.e., 60 smog alert days a year) and reduce our GHG emissions.
The coal phase-out could have been achieved at a low cost if the subsequent Liberal governments had pursued the lowest-cost options to phase-out coal (i.e., buying Quebec water power and investing in energy efficiency). Unfortunately, they decided to pursue the highest-cost option, namely, re-building our aging nuclear reactors. Ontario Power Generation’s price of nuclear power has risen by 91% since 2002 and it is forecast to increase by a further 100% to pay for the re-building of the Darlington Nuclear Station, further burdening Ontarians with completely unnecessary costs.
Minister Phillips correctly notes that Ontario’s coal phase-out is one of the largest GHG reduction initiatives in North America. Nevertheless, Ontario’s GHG emissions per person are still amongst the highest in the world. In fact, they are 11% higher than those of New York State and more than double those of Sweden.
Finally, as Sweden has shown, Minister Phillips’ assertion that there is a trade-off between reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and growing our economy is simply not true. We can address the climate crisis and keep our economy humming by pursuing these smart actions:
1. Keep Premier Ford’s promise to reduce our electricity costs by 12% by buying Quebec water power and investing in energy efficiency to make increasing use of zero-emission electricity cost effective.
2. Direct Enbridge Gas and Union Gas to ramp up their energy efficiency programs to reduce our natural gas costs by $85 billion and lower our natural gas-related GHG emissions by 18% by 2030.
3. Develop a strategy to make Ontario a world leader in the development, production and sale of electric vehicles. Please sign our petition.
Angela Bischoff, Director