While politicians flex, she suffers

By: Alexandra Machicado-McGee. Originally posted on Inter Alia.

She keeps giving, we keep taking, yet no one ever asks for consent nor sets reasonable limits on what we can do to her. Carbon pricing is an important method that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and therefore combats climate change. With the death of the cap-and-trade program, environmental rights are once again set aside. Doug Ford’s Conservative government is failing to consider the serious impact that its policies will have on climate change and the residents of Ontario.

The Minister of the Environment has claimed that the Conservatives care a great deal about the environment and remain committed to encouraging lower emissions. However, if the Conservatives actually cared “a great deal” about the environment, they would have tried to improve the cap-and-trade program before cancelling it. Likewise, if the government was committed to lowering emissions, it would have drafted a well thought-out policy to fill the void.

The death of cap-and-trade means that there will no longer be a Green Investment Fund. The Conservatives seem to think that the sole purpose of this tax was to take the money from “the people” to make the government rich. This is untrue. The cap-and-trade program was an environmental incentive to facilitate the transition to use less carbon. The funds generated were invested back into the health of our infrastructure and communities. The Green Investment Fund benefited and assisted Ontarians throughout their transition to green energy. It made green technology more accessible for homeowners and saved them money. It also invested in social housing retrofits, offered subsidies for electric vehicles, and supported businesses that wanted to use more sustainable practices. Funds were invested in Indigenous communities to develop a climate change adaptation plan. Transitioning to greener infrastructure is a difficult task. The absence of these funds now means that Ontarians are left with the burden of transitioning on their own.

Some argue that climate change is fake news. However, scientists across the world have agreed that the over-exploitation of our environment is detrimental to communities and future generations. Climate change is the defining crisis of our generation and the Ontario Conservative government does not seem to care.

Conservatives also argue that cap-and-trade was not the best method to deal with climate change—but at least it was a plan. The government will soon unveil the “Made-in-Ontario climate change plan” and has now finished gathering feedback from residents. Though asking residents for their thoughts was respectable, there will still be no limits on carbon emissions until a new limit is set by the Ford government or until the federal government imposes one. This will have devastating effects on our environment and it is unfair to our residents.

Lastly, the Conservatives claim that the cancellation of cap-and-trade is beneficial because it will save us money. However, as financial watchdogs underlined, Ontario will suffer a loss of $3 billion. This $3 billion could have been used to reinvest in our communities. The government will now be using millions of our tax dollars to battle court cases, instead of building greener and healthier communities for current and future generations. Doug Ford needs to listen to the cries of Mother Earth and set reasonable limits on what we can do to her. If he cannot do it for her, at least do it for “the people.”

Alexandra Machicado-McGee is a French Common law student at the University of Ottawa. She is in the midst of drafting a major research paper on the cancellation of Ontario’s cap-and-trade program.