Environmental Defence released a one-year progress report on the climate change policies of the Ontario government in early October. Failure to Launch reviews each of the promises/actions proposed by the Conservative government of Doug Ford under its much-citicized “ Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan, which lowered Ontario’s target for GHG emissions reductions from 37 to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and cancelled renewable energy programs. Environmental Defence finds that the government has not even made sufficient progress in its first year to meet the diminished GHG reduction goals, and makes specific recommendations for accelerated action. A summary appears in the Environmental Defence blog . Then, on November 7, thirty environmental advocacy groups, including Environmental Defence, posted an Open Letter to the members of Ontario’s provincial parliament on November 7, with specific demands which would take serious action on climate change. This coincides with the recall of the legislature after an historic 4-month recess.
The government led the new session with its 2019 Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review under a new banner: “ A Plan to Build Ontario Together”. Although analysts note many “about face” policy changes to some programs, the climate/environmental file hasn’t benefitted, as described in an article in the National Observer . It notes that there was no mention in the budget of the previously announced Ontario Carbon Trust, a fund of $400 million over four years to support the private sector in developing clean technologies .
Ontario to pursue carbon tax case, and dragging its feet on action
According to analysis of the Economic Outlook from TVO: “Anyone looking for signs of reasonableness from the Tories on carbon pricing will be disappointed: despite the recent federal-election results, the fall economic statement reiterates that the government will keep fighting the federal carbon tax in court. The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to hear the case in March 2020.”
On October 31, this press release proposes to expand fines for environmental regulations, reinvesting that revenue “to support projects that provide local solutions to environmental issues”. Environmentalists were not impressed.
The White Pines wind farm decommissioning began in October, with the government following through on its 2018 decision to cancel the almost-completed project, despite an estimated cost to taxpayers of $100 million in costs and penalties. The local press of Prince Edward County reported on October 31 “ Sadness for green energy supporters as dismantling begins on turbine project” . The National Observer published a related article concerning the costs of cuts to clean energy programs, including White Pines: “Doug Ford ‘throwing away’ millions to kill Ontario clean energy programs” (Nov. 19). The article cites a cost to the taxpayer of $230 million from killing more than 750 renewable-energy projects.
A government press release on November 7 announced a “Multi-Sector Impact Assessment Will Help Communities Identify Climate Change Risks and Strengthen Resilience”. Apparently there’s no urgency: the private sector contract for this assessment will be tendered in 2020 for 2 years, producing a final report in 2022.