VOW submission to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment on Climate Change
Climate change is the defining issue of our time.
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is engaging the people, businesses and communities of Ontario in a dialogue on climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fostering strong economic growth.
That feedback will help inform a strategy and action plan to be announced later this year.
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is posting a discussion paper that proposes a path forward and guiding principles for climate change action.
The paper outlines Ontario’s long term vision for transformation to a low-carbon economy and suggests specific immediate actions. Key themes include:
- Key sector-specific actions such as productivity improvements in transportation, industry, buildings, electricity, agriculture and waste by building on existing climate-critical provincial initiatives;
- Supporting science, research, and technology as critical element of long-term transformation and to help drive economic growth;
- Working with partners to promote climate resilience and risk management in key areas;
- Putting a price on carbon to encourage clean technology research, development and investment.
On Sunday, March 29th, Canadian Voice of Women made a submission to the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Change and Environmental Policy Division, Air Policy and Climate Change Branch to the attentions of Kathy Hering, Senior Policy Analyst.
Dear Kathy Hering,
As members of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace we are extremely concerned about the threat to our future from runaway temperature rise as a result rising carbon dioxide emissions in our atmosphere. We are glad to have the opportunity to submit a comment to the provincial climate consultation
We held our last national conference in November on the climate crisis.
While we are encouraged to see the province taking action to bring in a long term plan for ambitious carbon emissions reduction we believe that the goal needs to be even more ambitious than it is. Our research suggests that to avoid extreme and runaway temperature rise we need to get emissions to zero by 2040. We know that is ambitious and we believe it can be done.
We must not underestimate the degree of crisis we are in. We are experiencing extremely devastating storms (eg in Vanuatu so recently, with 90% of housing destroyed), a warming ocean, droughts, wildfires, and a melting Arctic (and now Antarctica).
Should we fail to rein in carbon emissions and transition urgently and completely to renewable energy sources we compromise our children’s future. Political instability, food insecurity, increasing poverty, and collapsing natural resources will be the result.
Fossil fuels must be actively phased out as soon as possible, along with nuclear power.
These sources of energy are both greatly underpriced and subsidized at extreme cost to our health and to the sustainability of our ecosystems in the future.
We support the following basic principles for climate action.
1) End fossil fuel subsidies
2) Put a meaningful price on carbon*
3) Develop a renewable energy plan for Canada
*This price must rise quickly in order to have the desired effect on reducing fossil fuel consumption and encouraging the switch to renewables.
Voice of Women for Peace are members of the Climate Action Network and supporters of Climate Fast. According to information prepared by John Dillon of KAIROS for Climate Fast information sheets, and posted on the province’s comment page:
“Both the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (2009) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014) estimate that to meet the internationally recognized goal of keeping global temperature increases below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels the price of carbon emissions should rise gradually to around $200 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent.”
This increase is necessary to meet our carbon reduction goals and is going to show up in the energy costs people pay. A dividend to offset that cost would be very beneficial to the social equity aspect of this change, and to its political acceptability.
While some combination might be made with cap and trade, we believe the benefits of the ‘fee and dividend’ approach mean it should be included in the province’s carbon pricing plan. This will send an important price signal, and a signal in terms of what is socially acceptable. Everyone is invited to get in on the change, and not to be penalized during the transition. It is a caring approach that will engage the public much more than a strictly cap and trade system.
We oppose any new fossil fuel infrastructure, including pipelines, on the basis that we cannot possibly be relying on oil and gas decades into the future without assuring the destruction of the ecosystems our children will rely on to live healthy lives.
We are already above 400 ppm and must reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere to 350 or below to prevent devastating temperature rise of more than 2 degrees.
(We note that in the presentation at the deputation night, the presentation showed anticipated temperature rise to be at least 3 degrees (southern Ontario) to 6 degrees (northern Ontario) and this is very dangerously high, this would change the climate zones in extreme ways.)
Pipelines across Ontario must be subject to a climate assessment – and that includes the Energy East project. The province must not discount the potential of tarsands dilbit to undermine any positive progress we make, and in addition to threatening our clean water, lakes and rivers, across the province.
We encourage the province to develop new building code standards in line with the most ambitious ones found elsewhere in the world. Ontario should rely on hydro imports from Quebec to aid in the transition to renewables while phasing nuclear plants. We can do better for future generations, and we must.
On behalf of our members we thank the province of Ontario for taking this initiative and for the comprehensive nature of the proposals being considered. We will need change in every area in order to achieve deep decarbonisation.
We urge the province to challenge municipalities to join in this process. Local and regional roundtables would help get communities involved in finding solutions. While people know that climate change is here and is affecting our lives, not everyone is aware of how imminent the crisis is and how urgent action is for the sake of the future.
The impacts on indigenous communities and those most vulnerable must be considered and every effort made to consult with and include those communities in the changes we need to make together.
We know it will cost more if we delay, (and it will quickly become impossible to make the needed cuts in time) however the public are not all aware of the price of inaction and therefore an education program is essential.
We look forward to being partners in this work.
For the future of Ontario,
Margaret Rao and Janis Alton
Voice of Women for Peace, Ontario Chapter