Ontario and California Vow to Keep Fighting Pollution
As people across Canada and the U.S. increasingly feel the impact of climate change, Premier Kathleen Wynne and California Governor Jerry Brown held a bilateral meeting in Toronto today to discuss the next steps in the fight for the future of the planet.
Ontario and California — the two biggest economies in Canada and the United States, respectively — have joined forces with Québec to lead North America in the fight to stop climate change by creating the second largest carbon market in the world. In its first five auctions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission allowances, Ontario raised $2.4 billion by making polluters pay. By law, all of these proceeds are being reinvested in programs, rebates and incentives that are helping people afford low-carbon choices, including:
- GreenON Installations — 140,000 homes are receiving home energy reviews and no-cost smart thermostats
- GreenON Industries — up to $200 million in matching funding for clean technology projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters
- GreenON Rebates — thousands in steep rebates for residents to upgrade their homes by installing energy-saving features including geothermal systems (up to $20,000), insulation (up to $7,200), or high-performance windows (up to $5,000)
- The Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program — investing $94 million in cycling infrastructure and the development of new cycling plans across Ontario
- Electric and Hydrogen Vehicle Incentive Program — up to $14,000 in rebates for purchasing or leasing eligible electric and hydrogen vehicles.
Ontario’s future carbon market proceeds will be invested in expanding these programs for people and businesses, including:
- Lowering transit fares — Budget 2018 announced that future carbon market proceeds will be used to lower fares for people transfering between transit services throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
- Up to $1.3 billion towards Ontario’s new high speed rail line and GO Regional Express Rail
- Up to $800 million towards renovations at schools, universities, college and hospitals
- Up to $1.7 billion for home energy renovations and Ontario businesses through the Green Ontario Fund.
Following their meeting, the Premier and Governor participated in a fireside chat at the MaRS Discovery District. The leaders highlighted the need for international collaboration between states and provinces in fighting climate change, spoke about the way climate action is creating jobs and helping people save money on their energy bills, and warned that if states and provinces were to step back and give polluters a free pass, the consequences would be costly and severe.
As climate change has accelerated, California has been ravaged by wildfires. Communities throughout Ontario have been devastated by increasingly common flooding events. To safeguard the future of our communities, governments must move forward with serious plans to fight climate change and make it easy for businesses and households to make low-carbon choices, which is why Ontario and California are committed to pricing pollution through a flexible, competitive joint carbon market.
Making big polluters pay so that the low-carbon transition is more affordable for families and businesses is part of the government’s plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and free preschool childcare from 2 ½ to kindergarten.
- Since putting a price on pollution and introducing their respective carbon markets, Ontario and California have been leading their countries in economic growth and job creation.
- Prior to linking with California and Québec, Ontario held four successful stand-alone auctions that raised over $1.9 billion for programs that help people save energy and money. Ontario’s first joint auction with Québec and California on February 21, 2018 was a success, raising in the order of $477 million. The next joint auction is on May 15, 2018.
- Ontario’s greenhouse gas reduction targets are enshrined in law. As Ontario’s cap on pollution decreases each year, Ontario is on track to meet its future greenhouse gas reduction targets.
- Ontario met its 2014 greenhouse gas reduction targets by shutting down its coal-fired electricity plants, which also helped clean up Ontario air, virtually eliminating smog days in the province.
- An April 2018 report from the Clean Economy Alliance finds no evidence that Ontario’s carbon price has hurt the economy.
- In her recent greenhouse gas progress report, Ontario’s Environment Commissioner commended Ontario for joining a “best-in-class” cap and trade system with the Western Climate Initiative (WCI).
- Expert, independent analysis from EnviroEconomics reveals that a carbon tax would cost almost twice as much, yet would be just one-third as effective, as a linked cap and trade program.
“Ontario has come so far in the fight against climate change we can’t turn back now. Not when the cost of climate change is growing every day, and especially not when we know that our joint carbon market is working. The economy is growing, businesses are adapting, and the proceeds are helping families become more energy efficient and lowering the cost of things like public transit fares and smart thermostats. The low-carbon future is exciting and it is entirely within our reach, but government needs to lead. You can’t build a clean and modern economy without a price on pollution.”
“I’m here in Ontario because Premier Wynne shares California’s commitment to fighting carbon pollution and creating jobs — and our joint carbon market is already producing real results. We have no choice but to press forward, no matter the obstacles or opposition.”