Recommendations for Ontario’s Climate Change Plan

On December 7, I participated in hastily convened consultations to develop a Climate Change and Clean Air Plan for Ontario.  The McGuinty Liberals are running scared.  Climate change is on everyone’s agenda and they haven’t got a wisp of a plan to deal with it.

It would have been better if the consultations were broader.  I asked to open up another session on energy because when I had finally come to hear of these consultations, the energy sessions were already full.  Another energy session was opened up due to high demand, and I got Frank de Jong, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, and Jeff Berg of Post-Carbon Toronto to join me in the same session.

I walked into the room just as introductions were being made.  Jeff and Frank were nowhere in sight, and dozens of people in dark suits introduced themselves as representatives of Northland Power, Transcanada, hydro-electric producers, industry reps, energy agency reps and so on.  I thought to myself “This is going to be tough”.  Shortly afterwards, Jeff stumbled in, and Frank followed soon afterwards.  Together, we were the scruffy but passionate contingent.

It went very well.  I was surprised to see that there was remarkable unanimity in the ideas presented at the table.  To begin with, every opinion expressed supported the need to deal aggressively and immediately with climate change.  The need for a coherent and integrated plan was also a recurring theme.  Surprising to me was the frequent call for higher energy prices and the need to be vigilant of perverse price signals that encourage energy waste and higher emissions, such as lower land prices in far-flung areas inaccessible by public transit.  Finally, there was broad agreement that an absolutely fixed and gradually decreasing cap on emissions must be enforced.  Even the fact that the consultations were so speedily called was commented on by multiple people who would have appreciated more time to prepare and clearer instructions on what to expect.  So really, all the elements were there.

We were also very well received, with a lot of people nodding their heads and asking for details.  Yesterday, I finally mailed in the written copy of my recommendations, written in my longwinded and still open-ended style, coming in at ten pages.

Let’s hope that Ontario comes up with a plan to fill the gap Stephen Harper has left in climate change policy.

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