UPDATE: As of May 14, the number of groups in the coalition stands at about 200.
Binding, science-based climate targets, respect for Indigenous sovereignty, and investment in a “thriving, regenerative, zero-emissions economy” are the top demands from more than 125 organizations that were scheduled to launch the Ontario Climate Emergency Campaign at the provincial legislature later today.
The campaign begins just over a month before Ontarians go to the polls in a provincial election expected June 2. It’s urging candidates of all political stripes to endorse a 12-point climate action plan, the groups said in a release yesterday.
“We are failing to reach our targets,” said campaign co-chair Mili Roy, who also heads the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. “But we have the solutions to the climate emergency! Let’s implement them.”
“The climate target and policies in Ontario in no way match the urgency that climate science is laying out for us,” said Lana Goldberg, Ontario climate program manager at Environmental Defence Canada. “In fact, we are going in the opposite direction in Ontario with plans to increase the use of gas plants to generate electricity and proposals to build new mega highways that will increase pollution and lead to more car-dependent sprawl. We need a government that will invest in public transportation, protect natural areas, and invest in renewable energy to ensure Ontario is on a sustainable path and a healthy place to live.”
It is essential that we protect those who are most vulnerable to climate impacts and those most affected by the transition to a low-carbon economy, including Indigenous communities, essential workers in precarious employment, migrants, workers in the care economy, and racialized and low-income communities,” added Deena Ladd, executive director of the Workers Action Centre. “Our only way forward is to act together urgently and collectively to safeguard the present and secure the future for ourselves, our children, and for generations yet to come.”
In addition to the three top-line items, the group’s action plan calls on the province to:
• End all subsidies for fossil fuels and wind down their use;
• Treat the climate emergency as Ontario’s single biggest public health crisis;
• Speed up the shift to zero-emission buildings;
• Reallocate funds from Highway 413 and other highway expansions to support a faster transition to zero-emission transportation;
• Urgently protect natural biodiversity;
• Invest in local, organic, regenerative agriculture and food systems;
• Launch a “broad public education campaign” on the climate and biodiversity crises;
• Reinstate an independent Office of the Environment Commissioner;
• Ensure a just transition for Indigenous, resource-dependent, remote, and marginalized communities that leaves no one behind.
The 125+ groups behind the campaign come from a mix of communities and sectors, including agriculture, arts and culture, business, community groups, education, environment and climate action, faith groups, health professionals, justice, labour, and seniors’ and youth organizations.