Governments talk a lot about balancing the fiscal budget, but what about a carbon budget. Well, Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner is bringing forward a private members bill later this week that will demand of the Ontario government that they adhere to an annual carbon budget as a way to attack global climate change. His plan, Schreiner says, will cut Ontario’s climate pollution in half by 2030 and get the province to net-zero by 2045.
“This bill would require the Premier, and the Minister of the Environment to ensure that Ontario’s total net emissions of greenhouse gases does not exceed the carbon budget,” Schreiner said in a press conference Monday morning. “In the same way that the government must be held accountable for presenting a financial budget each year, this bill is designed to hold the government accountable in presenting a carbon budget each year.”
The Carbon Budget Accountability Act will set a Fair Share Carbon Budget, and setting a hard line on carbon emissions that the government cannot exceed. In the process, the work to avoid breaking these annual carbon commitments will create new job growth in green tech sectors while at the same time working to avoid a full-blown climate catastrophe.
“We are headed directly towards climate chaos if we don’t change course, and we’re missing out on the enormous promise of a clean, green economy,” added deputy Green Party leader and former Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe, who joined Schreiner for the announcement. “We need to legislate a zero carbon law that sets a fair share carbon budget based on science and what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has told us is the carbon budget left for the world.
“That’s what it’s going to take to make a better life, not half measures; we can’t get there by dribs and drabs anymore,” Saxe added.
This announcement comes almost a week before the start of the COP 26 conference in Glasgow. This gathering of world leaders has been frequently called the world’s last, best chance to offset a climate catastrophe.
“The bottom line is that we have to be honest with Ontarians about what it’s going to take for Ontario to do its fair share,” Schreiner said. “On the eve of what is a critically important climate conference, and bringing countries from around the world together to address the emergency we’re facing, Ontario is the largest, most populated province in Canada, and we have to show leadership, and now is the time to do it.”
Schreiner also said that the carbon budget can be achieved by tackling Ontario’s two biggest source emissions: inefficient buildings and transportation. Given that, a lot of the work to meet a carbon budget can be done by electrifying transit fleets, building 15-minute communities, and making homes and offices more energy efficient, all of which are among the climate action priorities of the Green Party of Ontario.
“Those are where the big opportunities exist, and this particular bill essentially puts in law what a carbon budget would look like,” Schreiner. “We would be following in the footsteps of other countries, like the U.K. for example, who have enacted carbon budgets, and are holding their governments accountable by making sure that they meet budget targets.”
The full details about the private members will be released later this week. Schreiner’s other private member’s bill, the Paris Galt Moraine Conservation Act, passed second reading on March 7, 2019 and was referred to standing committee.