4. What’s in the Climate Plan

Challenge -Loss

Rolled Climate Plans Backwards

  • Update! As of April 2022: Ontario quietly revises its plan for hitting climate change targetsTwitter thread by Keith Stewart with a brief analysis.
    • basically, items have disappeared from the plan:
      • electric vehicle uptake
      • natural gas conservation (projections have shrunk down to next to nothing here)
    • Despite the items that have been removed, the plan keeps its previous unambitious targets, riding on the actions of past governments and the initiatives of the current federal government. Primarily:
      • renewable content in gasoline
      • heavy industry emissions standards
      • shifting steel production away from coal-fired furnaces
    • Greater use of transit accounts for a small reduction too.
    • These hardly seem like emergency scale actions! Not to mention that they should’ve happened already
  • 2018/19: with cancellation of cap and trade, previous climate plans also ground to a halt
  • cut ambition to 30% below 2005 by 2030 – no longer matches Canada’s current goals – on the way to 4-5°C! 
  • far from meeting even its reduced targets! GHG emissions have gone up 7 Megatonnes from 2017 – Canada’s overall increase was 14.
  • plan is vague – lacks details, timelines and clear commitments – does not demonstrate how we’ll get to a low-carbon society 
  • no updated climate change plan or timeframe to provide one
  • problems with climate modelling and emissions estimates
  • for comparison, the former climate plan included a table spanning 26 pages detailing actions, investments and expected GHG reductions
  • emissions reduction not a “cross-government priority” 
  • As of 2020: Environment Plan modelling not officially updated – Auditor General 2019 report discredit current modelling – would achieve about 1MT or 1/10th of already weak targets – may not reduce emissions at all
  • In 2021, the auditor general continues to find failure after failure
4.a. Lost Energy Efficiency Incentives and Building Code Plans
4.b. Lost Electric Vehicle Incentives; Green Transportation Projects

What do we need instead!

Legislated, increased ambition in line with a 1.5°C future. Targets that are met with a commitment to climate justice, equity and leaving no one behind.

Strong Climate Plans

  • create an updated, detailed, transparent plan – include timelines and clear commitments
  • demonstrate how we’ll get to a low-carbon society and meet climate goals with accurate climate modelling and demonstrable emissions estimates
  • take a cue from the former climate plan, which includes a table spanning 26 pages detailing actions, investments and expected GHG reductions
    make emissions reduction a “cross-government priority” 

4.a. restore Lost Energy Efficiency Incentives and Building Code Plans – for retrofits, the adoption of solar, heat pump and geothermal energy.

4.b. Restore Electric Vehicle Incentives; Green Transportation Projects

For more details on the specific categories, click the buttons below:

Act like it’s an emergency! Amping up the approach….

Declare a climate emergency and make that declaration meaningful.

According to the 2018 U.N. IPCC report, global emissions must decrease 45% by 2030, eight years from now, to have any hope of success. Within Canada, our fair share is much higher. Given new studies factoring in ocean acidification, polar ice melt and subsequent feedback loops, we have even less time. In other words, we are truly in a climate emergency and need to move as rapidly as possible. Let’s start by naming and declaring the existing emergency!

Some current fair share calculations for Ontario: reduce emissions 30% by 2025; 60% by 2030; and 100% by 2040. These may need a review and update frequently given new findings and to ensure pathways fully house climate justice and develop in true partnership with Indigenous peoples.

  • Buildings: Ban new gas connections by the end of 2023
  • Create a Crown Corporation to empower a workforce to do deep retrofits and implement the transition to non-fossil fuel heating – goal of 2030
  • Implement net-zero emissions building codes on all new builds by 2024 
  • Transportation: Mandate zero emissions for all light, medium and heavy duty vehicles – goal 2030
  • Establish 5-year carbon budgets that decline to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible, by 2040 at the latest.  

Some emergency level actions, like enabling community based green energy systems and making public transit free, or moving decidedly in this direction starting with low income groups, intersect quite clearly with climate justice. In fact, climate plans that centre justice will have the best chance to create the deep and widespread changes needed for a livable world.

Spotlight on Climate Justice! 

As stated above, climate justice is integral to the wide-sweeping changes needed to address the climate emergency. Mending the cracks and inequities in society, centring those currently marginalized and strengthening social infrastructure to help everyone transition and protect us all is key. Let’s take a closer look at what that might mean.

Indigenous communities in Ontario have experienced environmental racism, lack of infrastructure development and resources and other devastating impacts of colonialism. Colonialism, manifest partly in an extractive mandate that puts profit before people, is at the root of the climate crisis and in turn, the climate crisis multiplies ongoing threats and impacts to Northern and Indigenous communities. True reconciliation is a pathway away from crisis.

Central to reconciliation is a prioritization and respect for Indigenous sovereignty and autonomy. We can call on the province of Ontario to build a new relationship with Indigenous peoples premised on the recognition and respect of Indigenous peoples’ jurisdiction within their territories, and to collaborate in true partnership with Indigenous peoples on shared climate priorities. – see Ontario Climate Emergency’s Action Plan, point 2

A Just Recovery must uphold Indigenous Rights and include the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, in line with the standard of free, prior, and informed consent. – Canada’s Just Recovery Principles.

Meaningful collaboration with Indigenous peoples, including in developing and implementing climate plans, is essential in all undertakings and for so many reasons – ongoing leadership, stewardship of the land and water over the millennia, world views, equity and strong communities to name a handful. We recommend visiting Indigenous Climate Action’s website and finding out more about any local Indigenous groups and initiatives.

Here are a few more things to ask for a full commitment to and support:

  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples including the right to Free Prior and Informed Consent.
  • Recognizing and respecting Indigenous laws, values, customs and traditions. 
  • Fulfilling the calls for justice in final report of the National Inquiry into Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women.
  • Heeding the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Costs are an equity issue as well. Affordable and adequate housing, including high-density, retrofitted, green public housing (with strict rent control) is important. It is critical that rentals, public housing and apartments be part of retrofit plans without compromising vulnerable populations through untenable rent increases.

The least-cost pathways to meeting meaningful emissions reduction targets include increasing clean electricity supply and promoting energy efficiency and conservation. If these pathways are explored in conjunction with equity, solutions like shifting Northern communities from high cost electricity to heat pumps with energy efficiency measures that cost less than new gas installs could emerge.

Just Transition: Climate action can also further labour rights and equitable job creation. One example of this is the creation of in-Ontario electric vehicle manufacturing (see https://www.greenjobsoshawa.ca for more thoughts on this). However, prioritizing other modes of transportation, like cycling and public transit, means less mining of minerals and thus, less threat to wilderness and Indigenous communities, like those posed by opening up the Ring of Fire.

Note: The province matched the $295 million that the federal government provided to retool Ford of Canada’s Oakville Assembly Complex for electric vehicle production and so is invested in growing the EV industry.

Health: Last but not least, health is a climate justice issue. Many repercussions result from air pollution, extreme heat, flooding and air-borne diseases. These repercussions are not evenly distributed and magnify the threats that those most vulnerable already face (i.e. food insecurity, extreme heat in apartments with little energy efficiency and areas near sources of high pollution). Taking action on climate in ways that create health co-benefits, starting in ways that centre those most impacted by environmental racism and climate change, will ensure a healthier, more just and livable world.

Notable: The current government is undertaking a climate change impact assessment. https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/57998/ontario-launches-first-ever-climate-change-impact-assessment

Example of a win! 

In December 2021, Halton Hills became the first Canadian municipality to set a 2030 Net-Zero target! This is 20 years ahead of 2050 targets as set at the federal level and by many other municipalities and institutions.

Take Action!

Worth exploring here: the government’s Surplus Food Redistribution Infrastructure Program that is listed as part of climate plans. It is set up to provide support in the form of getting surplus food from grocery stores, restaurant, farms etc. to food rescue organizations, First Nation communities and Indigenous organizations like Afri-Can Food Basket, Windigo First Nations Council and Second Harvest.

What else can we do?

Join a group: Are there any climate groups in your area? To list just a handful: https://www.haltonhillsclimateaction.com/pastrallies, ClimateFast, Climate Justice TO (Regional groups), Fridays for Future (Regional groups), Toronto350, https://www.facebook.com/Hamilton350, For our Kids, Idle No More, Kairos – more here

Take Action: Are there any local, Indigenous led initiatives and projects to support? Any land back movements ongoing, to protect land and water and uphold Indigenous sovereignty?

Learn More: A look at the current environment plan, some comparisons to previous liberal plan: https://www.toronto350.org/a_look_at_ontarios_new_environment_plan

Synopsis done for the comment period on the environment plan based on Dianne Saxe’s report Climate Action in Ontario: What’s Next? and bringing in other research:  https://www.toronto350.org/whats_next_for_climate_action_in_ontario

Environmental Defence: blogpost on the Auditor’s comments on our climate progress.

Any other thoughts?

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