The government of Canada’s largest province will on Thursday reveal its plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and Ontario’s environment minister says it will show that fighting climate change doesn’t require a carbon tax.
Environment Minister Rod Phillips is releasing the Ford government’s climate change plan at 1 p.m. ET during a news conference at a conservation area in Nobleton, north of Toronto.
The plan will include targets for reducing Ontario’s carbon emissions, but it will not include a carbon tax, Phillips told CBC News in an interview.
Asked how the province can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions without putting a price on carbon, Phillips responded with questions of his own.
«I put the question back to all the proponents of carbon taxation: How can they be so focused on just one solution when we’re dealing with something this complicated?» he said. «Are they dedicated to a carbon tax or are they dedicated to real action on climate change and reducing GHGs?»
The Ford government brings in its climate change strategy against the backdrop of its bitter fight with the Trudeau government over carbon pricing. Ford fired the latest shot Wednesday, blaming the planned federal carbon tax for General Motors’ plan to close its assembly plant in Oshawa, even though GM announced at the same time it intends to close four U.S. plants too.
Ontario is currently joining Saskatchewan in a court battle against the move to impose a federal carbon pricing scheme on provinces that don’t have one of their own. Ottawa has shot back by bypassing the Ford government and sending $420 million from its Low Carbon Economy Fund directly to cities, hospitals, universities, schools and businesses to help with efficiency programs and other emission-reduction efforts. One of Ford’s first moves as premier was scrapping the previous Liberal government’s climate change plan, which was built on a cap-and-trade program, forcing companies to pay for permits to emit GHGs. Ford campaigned vigorously against cap-and-trade, characterizing it as a carbon tax and calling it the «worst tax ever.»
The specific targets for emission reductions in today’s plan will be crucial, says the Ontario NDP’s climate change critic, Peter Tabuns.
«Will there be targets that will actually protect people from dangerous climate change? That’s a critical piece. If [the plan] doesn’t have that, then the rest isn’t worth looking at,» Tabuns said in an interview this week.
«If [Phillips] has no carbon pricing at all, but he shows real projects, real policies that will reduce emissions, and he can show how they would be reduced, and he shows how they will be paid for, then that could well be credible,» said Tabuns.