The Doug Ford government’s decision to cancel Ontario’s carbon cap-and-trade program could increase the province’s greenhouse gas emissions by 48.8 million tonnes per year by 2030, the equivalent of bringing 30 new coal plants online, according to a federal government analysis obtained by the Toronto Star.
In a letter to her provincial counterpart, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna “pointed out that by axing cap-and-trade, which generated C$1.9 billion to the province to fund environmental initiatives like subsidizing electric cars and retrofitting homes and offices, emissions will increase,” the Star reports. “The federal analysis is based on the fact that without the previous greenhouse gas reduction measures, Ontario’s planned target of 114.2 million tonnes of emissions for 2030 will be closer to 163 million tonnes, a 48.8-million-tonne difference.”
“Your letter suggests our government’s elimination of cap-and-trade will significantly increase carbon pollution,” Ontario Environment Minister replied Thursday. “I reject that assertion outright, as it suggests Ontario will have no plan going forward, which is not the case. We understand that climate change is real, that human beings have an impact on the climate, and that, collectively, we must take action.”
Phillips has made that claim before, but has not come forward with a plan for replacing the emission reductions the province had already adopted under its previous government.
In her letter, McKenna noted the projected increase in Ontario’s emissions would be “almost double the pollution that was eliminated through Ontario’s celebrated coal phaseout, completed under the previous government, which saw smog days across the province drop from 53 to zero.” She said it’s “unfortunate that your government has ended Ontario’s climate action, including by cancelling energy efficiency programs that were helping Ontario families, schools, businesses. and communities save energy and money,” adding that Ottawa needs to understand “as soon as possible” how Ontario will make up the 48-megatonne gap.
Opposition MPP Ian Arthur (NDP, Kingston and the Islands) said Ford and his team haven’t thought through the ramifications of cancelling the province’s previous climate action plan.
“It’s clear that by cancelling cap-and-trade with no replacement environmental protection program, Ford is doing long-term damage to our province,” he told The Star. “The kicker is that Ontarians are actually going to have to pay extra for Ford’s war on the environment—from the end of green programs that put more money in their pockets, to being on the hook for billions of dollars in penalties and lawsuits over ripped-up contracts.”