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  • News
  • January 12, 2017

Daiene's Diary - January Op-Ed

Experts have identified climate change as one of the greatest threats facing the world today.   From increased extreme weather events causing droughts, damage to our homes and infrastructure, the result is higher food costs and insurance rates.  We can no longer ignore the fact that the planet is warming because of human activity.

Last fall, the federal government announced its commitment to put a price on carbon.  Already, British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec have implemented climate control initiatives.  Action is no longer a choice for us here in Ontario, but an imperative. 

The critical question we need to ask ourselves is…“What are we going to do about it?”

This isn’t a simple question.  Despite positive job growth we’ve seen in Ontario over the past few years, some people are still struggling.  Any action we take must be mindful of that.

 As part of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, the Cap and Trade program is designed to respect the needs of Ontarians, with the objective of decreasing carbon emissions. 

The concept is simple.  We put a cap on carbon emissions, and companies that produce more pollution pay a penalty.  The funds collected are then returned to you to make your home more energy efficient.  Businesses can take advantage of clean-tech options.  The plan supports electric vehicles and public transit.

Leading economics and environmental policy group EnviroEconomics has weighed in on this debate, stating that Cap and Trade is the most effective policy for Ontario to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest possible cost.

Alternative schemes, such as a Carbon Tax, were also considered.  After criticizing our Cap and Trade plan, without any plan for reducing carbon emissions, Conservative leader Patrick Brown recently announced his party’s support for a Carbon Tax.  According to EnviroEconomics, calculations show the Conservative scheme would actually cost households $50 a month.  That’s four times more than the government’s estimated $13 a month under Cap and Trade. 

What’s more, Cap and Trade will see an estimated net greenhouse gas reduction of 18.42 million tonnes by 2020, whereas the Conservative plan would only see 12.7 million tonnes reduced in the same time period.

After California introduced its own Cap and Trade program, its economy grew at a pace that exceeded the rest of the U.S. economy.  With almost 3.3 per cent growth in the number of jobs in the first year and a half of its program, California showed the world that Cap and Trade can be an effective model for both reducing emissions and supporting a healthy economy.

Growing a low carbon economy – producing and selling energy efficient furnaces, water heaters, windows, doors, roofs, cars, etc. – creates a profitable energy future.  Just ask the 40,000 people now working in Ontario’s green tech sector.

While there are some costs related to reducing our carbon emissions, the cost of doing nothing is much greater.  Cap and Trade is how we’re going to ensure a healthy future with the least impact on households today.

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