Meanwhile, in Ontario…pre-election 2022

#9 – A 12 point Climate Action Plan for Ontario

Meanwhile in Ontario 9

This is week 9 of 9 in which we wrap up the series with the comprehensive 12-point Climate Plan for Ontario, developed by the Ontario Climate Emergency Campaign (OCEC). The OCEC is a coalition of over 150 Ontario groups representing over half a million Ontario residents.

Pictured above, left to right: Deena Ladd (Workers Action Centre); Lana Goldberg (Environmental Defence); Mili Roy (Cdn Assn of Physicians for the Environment, CAPE-ON); Andre Forsythe (Climate Challenge & School for Climate) and Samantha Green (CAPE-ON)

A Climate Action Plan for Ontario

“Premier Doug Ford is making the climate crisis worse. His government’s arrogance, climate recklessness and willful negligence, threatens our future. His government, consisting of 68 elected Conservative MPPs are putting the rest of us in peril.” — Seniors for Climate Action Now! 

OCEC Climate Action Plan: 

Acknowledging the Code Red for humanity declared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the closing window in which to enact impactful positive change, the OCEC is holding the Government of Ontario accountable to the following Climate Action Plan. 

The organization is calling for these actions to be embedded in legislation to ensure accountability, transparency and inclusion, with periodic mandated public reporting on all measurable outcomes. Below is a summary of each point. Read the full plan and see the list of signatories at: 

1. Set binding climate targets based on science and justice consistent with global efforts to limit planetary warming to 1.5C.  

Target reduction goals of GHGs, relative to 2005 levels, must be set at 30% by 2025; 60% by 2030; and 100% by 2040. 

2. Prioritize and respect Indigenous sovereignty and autonomy.  

Build a new relationship between the Province of Ontario and Indigenous peoples premised on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).  

3. Invest in a thriving, regenerative, zero-emissions economy. 

Do so recognizing that the cost of inaction will massively outweigh the cost of immediate urgent climate action.  

4. End all fossil fuel subsidies immediately and rapidly wind down all fossil fuel use. 

Phase out gas-fired electricity by 2030. Redirect funding to energy efficiency and fully renewable low carbon energy sources.  

5. Prioritize public health as the climate crisis is our single greatest health crisis. 

Incorporate Health in All Policies, One Health tenets, and Wellbeing Economy indicators into all future policy decisions, moving beyond economic evaluations and GDP-based measures. 

6. Accelerate the transition to zero emission buildings. 

Establish and implement stringent net-zero emissions building codes on all new builds by 2025, including elimination of fossil-fuel-based heating. Ban new gas connections by the end of 2023.  

7. Accelerate the transition to zero emissions transportation and ensure ongoing sustainable community development. 

Invest in affordable, accessible, and convenient zero-emissions public transit connecting and interconnecting communities, including northern communities. Prevent urban sprawl through sustainable urban development and intensification, while promoting healthy walkable, cycling-friendly communities with ample green infrastructure. 

8. Urgently protect natural biodiversity. 

Restore natural ecosystems functions, preserve biodiversity, and increase carbon sequestration, including important carbon sinks such as the Greenbelt, the boreal forests of northern Ontario, and the James Bay lowlands, thereby improving human and ecosystem resilience to climate impacts.  

9. Invest in local, organic, regenerative agriculture and food systems.  

Incentivize carbon storage in soil, restore biodiversity, and ensure food sovereignty and food security across the province.  

10. Institute a broad public education campaign, as we all have the right to know what’s at stake. 

Tell the truth about the climate and biodiversity crises and their critical impacts on human survival, in order to educate and mobilize broad community-based and societal action.  

11. Reinstate an independent office of the Environmental Commissioner. 

Empower and adequately fund the Environmental Commissioner on an ongoing basis to independently oversee the implementation of the essential environmental actions to be taken. 

12. Leave no one behind.  

As we make the massive and urgent transformations critically needed to secure our shared future, ensure a just transition for Indigenous, resource-dependent, remote, and marginalized communities, low-income families, fossil fuel workers, and all others disproportionately affected by the necessary shift to a low carbon economy.  

#8 Land Use, Sprawl and Highways 

Greater Golden Horseshoe Development Plan

We go to the polls on June 2, 2022. Meanwhile in Ontario…  juxtaposes what must be done to ensure a liveable future with what the Ford government has actually been up to. This is week 8 of 9. 

The climate crisis requires a major rethinking of how we build our cities and transportation systems, but the Ford government is committed to old models of unrestrained growth, highways, and sprawl.  

What Ontario Needs to Do: 

  • Make ‘15-minute neighbourhoods’ the goal for large cities and small towns instead of continued ‘sprawl’ subdivisions 
  • Subsidize municipalities to intensify population centres through reuse of brownfield sites; development of vacant lots and infill; expansion or conversion of existing buildings (five simple solutions here
  • Update the Ontario Building Code to require more flexibility in housing models 
  • Follow the lead of municipalities like Hamilton, that refuse to extend urban boundaries but rather to densify within their current boundaries  
  • Build and fund an extensive public transit network throughout the province both within and between municipalities of all sizes  
  • Halt new highway construction to reduce climate breakdown and keep infrastructure out of forests, farmlands and wetlands
  • Invest in lower-cost Light Rail Transit (LRT) for cities rather than building expensive subways which take many years to complete  

Doug Ford’s Actions:  

#7 – The Climate Impact of Buildings

Picture of building under construction.

We go to the polls on June 2, 2022. Meanwhile in Ontario…  juxtaposes what must be done to ensure a liveable future with what the Ford government has actually been up to. This is week 7 of 9.

The Climate Impact of Buildings

Ontario needs to build with zero carbon materials NOW. There is no sign the Ford government understands this in its race to build more and more houses in Ontario. Buildings generate nearly 40% of annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The biggest long-term impact comes from building materials. Their extraction, manufacturing, transportation and construction releases up to 75% of the lifetime GHG emissions of a building into the atmosphere. These are today’s emissions and they are committed to the atmosphere before the building is in use.  

What Ontario Needs to Do: 

Doug Ford’s Actions:  

  • In June 2018, scrapped the GreenON program which provided rebates to homeowners for home efficiency upgrades such as solar, insulation, windows, and heat pumps 
  • Has not outlined a plan to adopt net zero energy ready codes  
  • Altered the OBC to remove the requirement that a ‘rough-in’ for electric vehicle charging be included in new home construction 
  • Cancelled $2.5 million incentive program for homeowners to install EV charging equipment 

#6 – Ford government squanders millions on anti-climate court cases  

We go to the polls on June 2, 2022. Meanwhile, in Ontario…  juxtaposes what must be done to ensure a liveable future with what the Ford government has actually been up to. This is week 6 of 9.

Ford government squanders millions on anti-climate court cases  

What Ontario Needs to Do: 

Doug Ford’s Actions: 

  • Wasted $30 million on court cases against the federal carbon tax.  
  • Mandated that every gas station post anti-carbon tax stickers on pumps or face steep fines. This action was deemed unconstitutional by the Ontario Superior Court 
  • Continues opposing Ontario youth in court suing the Ford government over its inadequate 2030 emissions target. The youth contend Ford’s action to weaken the target, violates their rights to life, liberty and security under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 
  • Is fighting an ongoing business class-action lawsuit for losses from investments due to his cancellation of the Cap-and-Trade program. More than C$2.8bn in permits were bought by Ontario businesses in the program. 
  • Is facing an additional $30 million lawsuit by Koch Industries re Cap-and-Trade investment losses

Meanwhile, in Ontario… #5 – Indigenous Rights and Reconciliation

Picture of Doug Ford from Dryden Now. Submitted photo.
Premier announces Ring of Fire deal

We go to the polls on June 2, 2022. Meanwhile in Ontario…  juxtaposes what must be done to ensure a liveable future with what the Ford government has actually been up to. This is week 5 of 9.

Indigenous Rights and Reconciliation

Indigenous land, water, and air defenders and their communities are often on the front lines where fossil fuel and resource extraction companies and governments promote economic growth that sacrifices natural systems and their communities. (SCAN!)

Ontario needs to: 

  • Adhere to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People UNDRIP
  • Respect and prioritize Indigenous knowledge, leadership, and consent for measures affecting their traditional lands. 
  • Restore and expand funding to Indigenous land protection projects
  • Place a moratorium on mining exploration and road building into the James Bay Lowlands or “Ring of Fire” as requested by First Nations in the area, until full, prior and informed consent is achieved and an extensive federal environmental assessment has been done. See map with Ring of Fire Belt, below.
  • Commit to a just transition which unites social justice and climate justice and recognizes that Indigenous communities are disproportionately impacted by climate change. 
The Ring of Fire is a mineral-rich region in northern Ontario about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. Source: CBC

Doug Ford’s Actions: 

We go to the polls on June 2, 2022. Meanwhile in Ontario…  juxtaposes what must be done to ensure a liveable future with what the Ford government has actually been up to. This is week 4 of 9.

Ontario needs to: 

  • Build province-wide EV charging infrastructure 
  • Reinstate EV subsidies to individual purchasers 
  • Immediately invest massively in public transit  
  • Require and fund development of active transportation infrastructure (walking, biking) for all Ontario municipalities  
  • Immediately provide full funding for restoration of train service to the North 

Doug Ford’s Actions: 

Meanwhile, in Ontario… #3 – Environmental Actions

Picture of Doug Ford. By The Canadian Press/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

We go to the polls on June 2, 2022. Meanwhile in Ontario…  juxtaposes what must be done to ensure a liveable future with what the Ford government has actually been up to. This is week 3 of 9.

Since the Forest Sector Strategy and James Bay Lowlands Project will turn two vital carbon sinks into carbon bombs, Ontario needs to: 

Ford’s actions:

  1. Cut funding for planting of 50 million trees by 2025. 
  2. Doubled industrial logging in boreal forests from 15 million m3 to 30 million m3 to produce 2x4s, toilet paper, and high mass wood products. 
  3. Exempted Crown land forestry projects from environmental assessment regulations and Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, considering these protections to be “red tape.” 
  4. Dec. 2021, removed protection from development from 225,000 sq km of land in Northern Ontario (Bill 43
  5. Granted mining exploration permits in the James Bay peatlands, one of the world’s largest carbon sinks and a globally significant wetland, without Indigenous consultation and agreement 
  6. Increased authorizations for activities harmful to species from 13 to over 800 a year.

Meanwhile, in Ontario… #2 – Environmental Policy

We go to the polls on June 2, 2022. Meanwhile in Ontario…  juxtaposes what must be done to ensure a liveable future with what the Ford government has actually been up to. This is week 2 of 9.

Ontario needs to: 

Instead, the Doug Ford Conservatives: 

  1. Abolished the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Ontario’s independent watchdog
  2. Fired Ontario’s first Chief Scientist
  3. Gutted environmental protections and public participation rights provided in the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR)
  4. Weakened the Endangered Species Act by delaying government response time, adding non-scientific members to classification committee, providing a pay-in-lieu-of-protection scheme for developers to avoid species-at-risk protections
  5. Gutted 36 Conservation Authorities’ ability to protect waterways and wetlands
  6. Shifted approval power over development applications from municipalities, Conservation Authorities, and the Ontario Planning Act to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry through use of Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs)

Introducing: Meanwhile, in Ontario… #1 – Energy

From The Guardian, August 8, 2018 : Doug Ford at the Caribbean carnival grand parade in Toronto. Photograph: Canadian Press/Rex/Shutterstock

In 2018, the IPCC issued a dire warning that without immediate action to slash GHG emissions, our world is on a collision course with destruction. Meanwhile in Ontario, newly elected Premier Doug Ford signalled the direction he intended to take the province: full-throttle fossil fuel expansion, destruction of renewable energy initiatives, and the steady rollback of environmental protections.

We go to the polls on June 2, 2022. Over the next 10 weeks, Meanwhile in Ontario…  will juxtapose what must be done to ensure a liveable future with what the Ford government has actually been up to. 

Ontario needs to: 

  • Invest massively in renewable energy (wind and solar),
  • Wean off fossil fuels in the transportation, industry and building sectors.
  • Intensify energy efficiency 
  • Subsidize individual home owners to install air source heat pumps to transition off fossil fuel heating 
  • Ban fossil fuel heating systems in all new builds, as Quebec, Vancouver, New York City and others have already done 
  • Phase out gas-fired power plants—as municipalities have asked 

Instead, the Doug Ford Conservatives: 

  1. Withdrew from cap-and-trade agreement between Quebec, California and Ontario 
  2. Spent $230 million to tear up 758 hydroelectric, wind and solar renewable energy contracts 
  3. Bought three gas-fired power plants, increasing reliance of Ontario’s electricity system on natural gas from 3% to 20% 
  4. Subsidized Enbridge to expand Ontario’s gas heating infrastructure 
  5. In case you think he’s changed their tune, in April 2021, introduced a bill to deprioritize renewable energy 
Conservatives spend $230 million to tear up 758 renewable energy contracts

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