Ontario election: June 2, 2022
Simple. To prevent catastrophic climate change and to bring forth a future in which our children and grandchildren can thrive.
I've lived in the riding for over 14 years.
I'm the president of The Carbon Accounting Company. Carbon accountants specialize in providing solutions to climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We're a type of business consulting service at the intersection of accounting, climate science, and human behaviour.
We work with organizations to measure their environmental footprint, and then find ways to reduce it. A lot of what we do is about causing behavioural change.
Society must start operating within the carrying capacity of the planet, but most people don't know how to do that. We educate and guide with that.
The Ontario Greens are the only party that makes the climate crisis the focus of policy.
Listen to voters and you'll find they're disenchanted with the 3 legacy parties. Those parties are hyper-partisan. They relentlessly fight with each other. Their goal is to prove each other wrong rather than work together to create solutions. They're focused on winning and keeping power.
Mike Schreiner, leader of the Ontario Greens, understands the importance of putting aside partisanship. He understands that solutions to complex problems require civilized and thoughtful discussion, debate, and ultimately cooperation.
There are two types of impacts.
First, we're going to see increasing frequency of severe weather events and damage like we're witnessing in other parts of the country. Overland floods destroying homes and property. Prolonged periods of extreme heat beyond human tolerance. Prolonged failures of our electricity grid due to lack of capacity to deal with the demands of extreme weather. What will we do when our homes cannot be cooled and temperatures exceed 40 degrees like we saw in British Columbia? How will we manage when public infrastructure like water pumps fail and we can't get water in our homes?
The second impact will be more permanent. New diseases and pandemics will emerge. The local ecosystem will start to fail as trees die. Economic value will collapse. For example, there will be areas of the riding that will become uninsurable because homes and buildings are in flood-prone locations. Imagine losing your retirement savings because the value of what you thought was a secure asset, like your home, diminishes because no one is willing to purchase flood-prone properties.
But most of this can be avoided if we act now. We've calculated the province can emit no more than 1630 Mt (mega-tonnes) of carbon dioxide-equivalent gases before we go beyond preventing a 1.5 degree temperature increase tipping point. It's like a bathtub filling with water. We're about an inch from the top. Once we reach the top, it overflows.
Ontario presently emits about 170 Mt per year and that number is getting higher. So we have less than 10 years before we run out of room in the bathtub. At that point, we've pretty much guaranteed a painful future for our children and grandchildren as the planet enters an uncontrollable heating feedback cycle. We must act now.
Operational carbon emissions are those that are most talked about. They occur in the present. For example, gasoline and diesel vehicles produce carbon emissions. The fossil fuel furnaces and water heaters in our homes and buildings produce carbon emissions. In Ontario the electricity powering our grid is partially generated from gas power plants. Those plants create carbon emissions.
Another example of operational carbon emissions is the release of stored carbon in the soil and in trees when we destroy our forests, grasslands and wetlands, and through non-regenerative farming practices.
Embodied carbon are all the emissions associated with the complete life cycle of a product, from extracting the raw materials to the end of its life. It's what we call "cradle-to-grave". Pretty much anything we purchase or build has carbon embodied in it, meaning carbon went into producing it.
So while the gasoline burned in a car produces operational emissions, the car's embodied emissions go beyond that. They include the emissions from mining and processing the materials it's manufactured from, the emissions of the assembly plant, the emissions of driving and repairing the car over its life, and the emissions at its end of life from recycling or disposal. All those emissions get added up to reveal the car's embodied carbon footprint.
If we start thinking about embodied carbon, we'll start seeing our true environmental impacts as consumers, businesses, and governments.
Right now, the carbon tax is administered by the federal government because Ontario has no carbon pricing mechanism of our own. The purpose of the tax is to cause behavioural change. The problem with the federal tax is it's too low to cause meaningful change to avert the climate crisis.
By replacing the federal tax with a more effective Ontario tax, we'll use it in the best interests of Ontarians. Like the federal tax now, most of what will be collected from consumers will be refunded to them at the end of the year. The remainder, along with what's collected from businesses, will be used to invest in the transition to a net-zero province.
No. Humans are capable of accomplishing great unpredictable things in short periods of time when there is will.
If we look at history, there are monumental, unpredictable accomplishments that happened relatively quickly. For example, the abolition of slavery. Would someone 200 years ago have predicted slavery, which was the backbone of much of the world economy, would soon be prohibited? Would someone 120 years ago have predicted women would soon have full voting rights equal to men? Would someone in 1960 have predicted there'd be a person on the moon before the end of the decade, even though no technology or materials existed to support such an endeavour?
We have the knowledge and technology we need to avert the crisis. The only thing missing is the will. We must start by electing more politicians who will do whatever it takes to prevent catastrophic climate change and, in the process, transition to a greener economy where we all can thrive.
First of all, we must confront that unlimited economic growth is impossible on a planet that cannot sustain it. At our current rate of consumption, we need about 4 Earths to sustain us.
De-growth, or perhaps more accurately, a steady state economy, transfers the emphasis from constantly increasing GDP to another measure of success. For example, researchers at the University of Waterloo have proposed a Canadian Index of Wellbeing which would track changes in the following 8 quality of life categories: Community vitality, democratic engagement, education, environment, healthy populations, leisure and culture, living standards, and time use.
Aren't these the things most of us really care about?
Copyright © 2021/2022 Ian Lipton and the Green Party of Ontario. Authorized by the CFO for the Toronto - St. Paul's GPO CA . All Rights Reserved.