Ontario Needs A Renewed Climate Action Plan
If Ontario’s newly minted Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray, needed a road map for priority action, it was delivered with pizzaz yesterday by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller. The Commissioner is required under the Environmental Bill of Rights to prepare an independent annual report on Ontario’s progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr. Miller says that Ontario will meet its 2014 target of 6% reduction below 1990 levels based on the shutdown of the province’s coal plants. Earlier the same morning, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister Glen Murray, surrounded by children sporting “Coal Free Generation” T-shirts, announced the re-introduction of Ontario’s Bill to prohibit any future burning of coal for electricity generation. Good for climate impact, good for clean air but now the province needs to focus on the next major emitters.
The next major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario are transportation (56.6Mt), mainly cars and trucks closely followed by industry sources (50.4 Mt).
I found the Commissioner’s four “Big Ideas” compelling. These dominate international discourse on climate change but they must be brought home to Ontario decision-makers. It’s time for a renewed climate action plan for Ontario that takes into account the evolution of climate science, the concept of “unburnable carbon”, the reality of uninsurable properties and activities and, the unavoidable need for both mitigation and adaptation measures. We’re already locked into climate chaos and can’t afford to ignore the need to act on both kinds of measures.
Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner says society has to end its reliance on carbon-based fuels, especially for transportation. He said, “We need to limit the increase in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius. But that can only be done if we leave two-thirds of the existing oil and natural gas reserves in the ground. People need to understand that brutal fact.”
So the next T-shirt slogan should read – “Oil&Gas – leave it in the ground”. But first, put it as a priority in a renewed Climate Action Plan.