Queen’s Park taking lead in fighting climate change

Eric HoskinsSt. Paul’s residents strive to ensure our neighbourhoods remain beautiful. Our green space is one of the most important reasons this community is among the best places in Ontario to live, work and raise a family.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where pressures on our environment come from many directions. The biggest threat is climate change caused by burning carbon-based fuels emitting greenhouse gases. But air and water pollution, pesticide use, and expanding landfills also pose dangers to our quality of life. The more greenhouse gases that we put into our atmosphere, the more we experience extreme, unpredictable weather, jeopardizing our health and future prosperity.

Many of us know about these issues but are unaware of the recent actions Ontario is taking to cut emissions and build more climate-resilient communities. These tangible steps make our province a leader in the global fight against climate change in a prosperous and sustainable low-carbon economy.

This July, Ontario hosted the Climate Summit of the Americas. The Summit brought together provinces, states, cities, Indigenous leaders, environmental groups and industry representatives. Speakers included Premier Wynne, former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore, Québec Premier Philippe Couillard, former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón and Governor of California Jerry Brown.

Due to a lack of national leadership, subnational governments like Ontario, Quebec and California are taking the lead to combat climate change.

At the Summit, Ontario led 22 other states and regions in signing the first-ever Pan-American Climate Action Statement. It includes commitments to support carbon pricing, ensure public reporting, take action in key sectors, and meet existing greenhouse gas reduction agreements.

Ontario has already made significant progress. Last year, we closed the last of the province’s coal-fired power plants. Our phase-out of coal stands as North America’s single greatest action to fight climate change — equivalent to taking seven million cars off the road.

Ontario has gone from experiencing 53 smog days in 2005 to none this past year.

Ending coal also created the opportunity to kick-start Ontario’s renewables industry, creating tens of thousands of good jobs across the province over the last decade. As economies around the world transition to clean power, Ontario’s ability to meet the projected demand for renewable energy will create even more opportunity for Ontarians in the years ahead. We’re proving that good environmental policy is good economic policy.

This spring, we announced Ontario is developing a cap-and-trade system to further reduce emissions while fostering innovation and competition. We intend to align our carbon market with California and Québec to create the largest carbon market in the Western hemisphere.

Finally, we are making the largest infrastructure investment in the province’s history. Building new transit and more climate-resilient community infrastructure will further reduce emissions while creating jobs and better equipping us to handle the impacts of our changing climate.

Together with our partners, Ontario is showing that fighting climate change is the right thing to do for our economy, our planet and our children’s future.