Patrick Brown continues to mislead Ontarians about our plan to fight climate change. His op-ed in today’s Toronto Sun – focused on the cap to limit the amount of emissions businesses can release into the atmosphere– was full of inaccuracies that need to be corrected.
The reality is that we’re taking this approach because it guarantees GHG reductions at the cheapest price possible, unlike Brown’s carbon tax which would cost families four times more without guaranteeing any reductions.
Facts matter in Ontario and Brown needs to be honest when he speaks to Ontarians.
He said: “Their scheme is an annual $1.9 billion cash grab that will mean your money is going to disappear in general revenues.”
Fact: Wrong. Every dollar generated through cap and trade will be deposited in a dedicated account and reinvested into green projects like transit, electric vehicle incentives and housing retrofits that fight climate change. This means every dollar goes back into helping families and businesses successfully make the transition to a low-carbon economy.
He said: “The Liberals refuse to disclose how much this will cost taxpayers.”
Fact: Not true. We have always been open and honest about the costs and benefits of our Climate Change Action Plan, including potential price impacts on gasoline and natural gas. As the independent Ontario Energy Board noted on December 21, 2016, natural gas prices will remain lower in 2017 than they have been during recent peak periods – even when factoring in the cost of cap and trade. The OEB’s updated interim rates for natural gas utilities are also in line with our initial estimates announced in the Climate Change Action Plan last year. These rates are also temporary estimates, and will be subject to full hearings in the coming months.
And let’s not forget – overall, natural gas bills remain lower than they were in 2009.
He said: “Ontario now generates more electricity than we can handle, and neighbouring jurisdictions such as Michigan buy it at a cheaper rate than it costs us to generate, costing taxpayers billions of dollars.”
Fact: We’ve seen this one from Patrick Brown before.
Considering the benefit to Ontario ratepayers that we get from selling our electricity to neighbouring jurisdictions, it’s curious as to why he continues to rail against this practice. Even his Conservative colleagues know better. When the Member for Simcoe-Grey was Energy Minister in 2001, he called these exports “pure profit.” He even went further, noting that “if we can make money on surplus power in the United States, we’re damn well going to do that.”
The last time the provincial Conservatives were in power, they spent $900 million importing electricity over two years just to keep the lights on. When we came into office, we inherited their dirty, unreliable electricity system and cleaned it up. Now, thanks to those necessary investments, Ontario families and businesses know the lights will go on and stay on when they need them to. Given our position of strength, Ontario is a net exporter now, benefiting ratepayers to the tune of $230 million in 2015 (as estimated by the Independent Electricity System Operator).
He said: “…Ontario businesses will be sending hundreds of millions of dollars into California and Quebec…”
Fact: As noted by the independent Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, “linked cap and trade programs can have less price volatility and that linking can be beneficial for smaller jurisdictions like Ontario.” The Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity agrees, noting that “a linked system expands the opportunity to find the lowest cost abatement across sectors, firms and regions.”
With buyers and sellers in each jurisdiction, revenue will flow back and forth as credits are bought and sold. This is an exchange – calling it anything else is wrong.
He said: “We may never know if carbon emissions have actually been cut anywhere.”
Fact: Again, not true. Earlier this year, the Ontario Legislature voted to enshrine the GHG targets below (relative to 1990) into law. Only the provincial Conservatives voted against:
- A reduction of 15 per cent by the end of 2020
- A reduction of 37 per cent by the end of 2030
- And a reduction of 80 per cent by the end of 2050
The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change is also required by law to report on progress on measures under the Climate Change Action Plan. This report will be released annually.
We also have the track record to back this up. Thanks to action taken to eliminate dirty coal, we successfully achieved our 2014 GHG reduction target. We are now focused on achieving our targets for 2020 and beyond.