For those of you who live in Ontario: the Government has a consultation underway right now about its climate change plan. If you’re surprised to hear that, so was I. The process closes on November 16. You can provide input to it by clicking here. Given that the current government cancelled the previous government’s climate change programs (fair game, a new broom sweeps clean) it’s asking for input – also fair game, though it’s not fair game that the process is hurried, largely unpublicized, and completely anonymous. In the age of trolls and bots, that anonymity is surprising. I’m firmly of the view that if people had to identify themselves, and could not hide behind handles and avatars, they would be more civil and honest in the comments they make; and that the results would be less manipulable and more representative of actual citizen opinion.
In that spirit – my submission follows in entirety (and I encourage you to make your own!):
First of all I want the government to base its approach on science and the scientific method. State unequivocally that the climate change we are observing is the result of human activity. You need to eliminate climate change denial as a defense to do nothing.
Second, do not be ideological in policy formulation. Every reputable economist, including the latest Nobel laureate, says that pricing carbon is the most effective way to reduce emissions. I am a common sense person and I know this to be true. Price signals work. Your own “Areas of Focus” stipulates the goal of “unlocking the power of the private sector to finance and drive innovative climate solutions.” Set a price on carbon, and let the power of the private sector solve the problem. Stop changing the approach mid-stream for petty political purposes. It signals that you are not serious about the issue and do not believe there is a problem; it confuses those who should be working on solutions.
Unfortunately your Government is fighting the federal government’s plan to tax carbon and rebate the proceeds to the people. The reasons seem purely political. They are not based in sound theory. Ontario will have to use sub-optimal methods to curb emissions. But as you claim to want to take action (in a ‘made-in-Ontario’ way), go sector by sector, find the biggest sources of emissions, and target them. Give emitters clear targets to achieve, and ensure they make them, without exception.
Third, while we need to plan mitigation measures, because climate change is now inevitable, it is far cheaper to reduce carbon emissions now to avoid more damage than to respond ineffectively to the damage later. The insurance sector is very clear on this. The future costs of climate change will dwarf the cost of solutions we implement now. So please, don’t make this consultation another empty process for political purposes. DO SOMETHING that will reduce emissions, and stop wasting valuable time.
As Merran Smith and Dan Woynillowicz wrote in the Globe & Mail recently (see https://www.theglobeandmail.com/…/article-denying-solution…/), denying solutions that work is a form of climate change denial. Do not reject any solution out of hand without determining its cost/benefit and efficacy.
Fourth, if Ontario is not part of the solution, it’s part of the problem. The only way we can address the challenge of climate change is to act in a concerted manner with other jurisdictions in Canada, and around the world. We cannot go it alone. If Ontario is going to rely on its own ‘made-in-Ontario’ approach, it has it work. It must reduce emissions. It must meet our international obligations. And we must hold other jurisdictions, in Canada and elsewhere, to THEIR obligations.
Finally, I object to the fact that this consultation is anonymous. I attest that this is my only submission; but how on earth can you rely on the feedback you get if no one who comments is accountable? How representative is the feedback you get? How can you follow up to confirm anything?