Environment watchdog says Ontario's climate plan will impose a carbon tax

Environment watchdog says Ontario's climate plan will impose a carbon tax

Environment watchdog says Ontario's climate plan will impose a carbon tax

Allowing Parliament to regulate all greenhouse gas emissions would "seriously disrupt" the balance of power set out in Canada's constitution, the Tories say.

A report issued Tuesday by the United Nations environment office said worldwide greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and that emissions must drop 55 per cent from 2017 levels by 2030 to prevent the global average temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees.

The Tories scrapped cap and trade after winning a majority government in June and have launched a court challenge against the imposition of a federal carbon tax. In an effort to cut carbon gas emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, Ontario will parallel federal changes to the accelerated capital cost allowance, which will make technology investments in clean energy generation and energy conservation equipment more attractive.

In announcing the plan, the provincial government touted the province's success in reducing emission through sustainable hydroelectric and nuclear energy sources. There is no tax on carbon.

"All I know about Doug Ford's plan - Premier Ford's plan - is that they're going backwards on climate action, that they're making it free to pollute", McKenna told reporters Thursday.

The Ford government brings in its climate change strategy against the backdrop of its bitter fight with the Trudeau government over carbon pricing.

"Any serious plan to tackle climate change needs to have a price on pollution", Caroline Theriault, McKenna's director of communications, said in a statement. Ontario was recently joined by the province of New Brunswick as part of the growing coalition of provinces across Canada which oppose and seek to have the federal carbon tax declared unconstitutional.

Critics have said Ontario's court challenge will be costly and has little chance of success.

Allan Hutchinson, a constitutional law expert and professor at York University's Osgoode Hall law school, said the federal government has the upper hand in this case.

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"Our government can not stand by and let this unconstitutional tax eliminate jobs and hurt families who are already struggling to get ahead in Ontario", said Attorney General Caroline Mulroney.

But the Ontario government's objective may not be to win the case at all, he said, adding that the Tories may simply be playing to their supporters.

Ontario Green Party leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner says the provincial government's new environment plan weakens Ontario's response to climate change.

After reviewing the climate plans of every province and territory, the federal government concluded earlier this fall that four provinces did not meet the federal standard. Ford fired the latest shot Wednesday, blaming the planned federal carbon tax for General Motors' plan to close its assembly plant in Oshawa, even though GM announced at the same time it intends to close four US plants too.

The new Ontario Carbon Trust appears similar to Australia's Emissions Reduction Fund, which provides taxpayer-funded incentives to businesses, farmers and land holders to adopt environmentally friendly practices and technologies.

"According to the plan, the province will establish emission performance standards for large emitters that "[take] into consideration specific industry and facility conditions while allowing for economic growth".

Ontario's new climate plan won't do much to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but it will cost the province jobs, say some people involved with companies in the emerging clean technologies sector.

"What the Ontario government is doing now is saying that at best Ontario is going to reduce its emissions eight per cent in the next 12 years", she said.

In June 2017, President Trump announced his intention for the U.S., the second largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, to withdraw from the agreement. "We have a mountain of studies that say that is not almost enough to avert catastrophe".

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