With climate change alarms screaming and world leaders meeting in Glasgow in what may be our final chance to take real action to avoid the worst impacts of climate heating, Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith decided to roll over and hit the snooze button on phasing out gas in the Ontario electricity system this morning.

In remarks to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) Stakeholder Advisory Committee, the minister repeated some of most over-the-top assertions from the IESO’s recent report on the feasibility of phasing out gas in defence of not setting any sort of deadline for ending burning fossil fuels to produce electricity in Ontario.


In fact, the Minister said a gas phase-out would “paralyze” efforts to electrify our economy, seeming not to understand that the IESO’s plan to ramp up gas use by 300-500% will hugely undermine the value of efforts to electrify homes, buildings and transportation. He seems to also be blind to the fast-falling costs of sources like solar and wind energy and waterpower from Quebec, instead talking about “continued use of existing assets,” which we take to mean gas and high-cost nuclear plants while simultaneously saying his priority is to protect ratepayers.

If the Minister is seriously concerned about electrification, why has his government done so little to support electric vehicle purchases and the development of bi-directional charging infrastructure?

Most disappointingly, the minister made no effort to address the call by Ontario’s municipalities to get gas plant emissions back down to 2017 levels ASAP. Instead, he happily left it to the IESO to get around to a gas phase-out some day and maybe put a moratorium on building new gas plants (given that our current gas plants are used at a fraction of their capacity, this would not be much of a commitment even if it were enacted).

The Ford Government has done very little to address climate change and is instead busy promoting new highways and continued use of fossil fuels. The people of Ontario care about climate change and want action to address climate pollution now – not some time in the future. They, unlike Minister Smith, understand that we can’t snooze through the current crisis and take action later.  We need to reduce – not increase – emissions today. 

What you can do

Please tell Minister Smith that it’s time to take climate change seriously and to give the IESO a firm deadline for ending gas use.

Thank you!

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