MEDIA RELEASE: 33 Ontarians Lobby at Queen’s Park for effective carbon pricing policy

MEDIA RELEASE: 33 Ontarians Lobby at Queen’s Park for effective carbon pricing policy

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33 Ontarians Lobby at Queen’s Park for effective carbon pricing policy

Media Release: For Immediate Release: October 6, 2015
Media Contact: Cathy Orlando, National Manager, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, , 705-929-4043.

Sudbury, ON: Canada at the federal level is not doing its fair share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is putting our climate and economy in jeopardy. In the absence of federal leadership, provinces have had to step up.

In August, members of the grassroots organization, Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) heard from a reliable source that the Ontario government is going to put forward details of their carbon pricing policy this month. Time is the essence because the global climate negotiations in Paris are less than two months away and there are no guarantees that things will change with regards to climate action in Ottawa after Election Day on Monday, October 19, 2015. Thus, on October 4 and 5, thirty three people attended a CCL conference in Toronto and then lobbied their provincial representatives at Queen’s Park. They lobbied 13 Members of Provincial Parliament (12 face-to-face meetings), including two Ontario Ministers and two Parliament Assistants to Ministers and the legislative aide to another Parliamentary Assistant. They lobbied two Progressive Conservative MPPs, seven Liberal MPPs, four New Democrat MPPs and the transportation critic for the Green Party of Ontario.

Jeff Rubin, economist and author, “The Carbon Bubble: What happens when it bursts”, was their keynote speaker. In his tenure as chief economist at CIBC World Markets, Jeff Rubin witnessed three economic bubbles: the dot-com bubble (2000), subprime mortgage bubble (2008) and the carbon bubble. Unlike for the first two economic bubbles, Canada is at the epi-centre of the carbon bubble. All of these bubbles are based on false assumptions. The carbon bubble’s false assumption is we can combust and emit as much carbon as we wish into the atmosphere to power economic growth. He eloquently detailed why the way forward is a national and revenue-neutral carbon tax. Jeff Rubin said, “Decarbonizing our economy doesn’t mean increasing taxes: decarbonizing our economy means shifting the tax base from income to carbon.”

 Their guest speaker, Tom Chervinsky from Clean Prosperity also shared with them insights on how to build support across party lines which they applied the next day lobbying their representatives.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s preferred method for pricing carbon is Carbon Fee and Dividend, a revenue-neutral carbon tax implemented nationally. However, since the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has decided to implement Cap and Trade (their second favourite system), we asked that the government commit to developing the very best Cap and Trade system to effectively reduce CO2 emissions while growing Ontario’s economy in a sustainable manner and protecting low-income Ontarians.  Specifically they asked our representatives to commit to the following to avoid the pitfalls experienced by other jurisdictions that have implemented Cap and Trade:

  • An annually decreasing cap and strong floor price.
  • Set the cap as upstream as possible – i.e. at the point where fossil fuels enter the Ontario market to ensure an economy-wide incentive to reduce emissions by improving efficiencies and investing in clean technologies.
  • Include no offsets in the system and no credit give-aways to industry lobbyists. Carbon emission reductions due to offsets are difficult to prove and activities supported by offsets often occur without them.
  • Return revenues from the auctions to Ontarian households to help citizens shoulder rising costs passed onto them by industry. Returned revenue also helps cycle money into the provincial economy and builds public support for the annually decreasing cap and strong floor price – that effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • A third party administrator.

At the end of the day, CCL Canada’s national manager, Cathy Orlando said, “Carbon pricing is the way the forward and the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia are showing great leadership. Without the actions of the provinces over the last eight years, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions would now likely be higher than when the federal Conservatives came into power. We look forward to continuing the dialogue on carbon pricing with all political parties and levels of government.”

Citizens' Climate Lobby Ontario with author and economist Jeff Rubin (centre)

Citizens’ Climate Lobby Ontario with author and economist Jeff Rubin (centre in grey jacket)

Cathy Orlando has put her words to work for the climate by getting letters and opinion pieces published in newspapers in every province in Canada. When she’s not safeguarding the climate alongside the best volunteers on the planet, you can probably find her stargazing, dancing, reading books not about climate change, hanging out with her husband Sanjiv, and mothering her three cherished daughters.