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The Ontario government announces a climate change plan on Thursday – without Justin Trudeau's carbon tax



Canada's largest provincial government will on Thursday reveal its plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and Ontario's environment minister said it would show that fighting climate change does not require a carbon tax.

Environment Minister Rod Phillips released the Ford government's climate change plan at 1pm. ET during a press conference in the conservation area in Nobleton, north of Toronto.

The plan will include targets to reduce Ontario's carbon emissions, but that will not include carbon taxes, Phillips told CBC News in an interview.

"Clear [climate change] is an important priority, "Phillips said.

"This is something we all admit needs to be addressed," he said, criticizing what he called a "dogmatic belief" that carbon taxes were the only way to deal with climate change.

Transportation now accounts for a greater proportion of Ontario's carbon emissions than other sectors, including heavy industries. (Andreas Rentz / Getty Images)

Asked how the province could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions without giving a carbon price, Phillips answered with his own questions.

"I ask all the supporters of the carbon tax question: How can they be so focused on only one solution when we deal with something complicated?" he says. "Are they dedicated to carbon taxes or are they dedicated to concrete actions on climate change and reducing GHGs?"

The Ford government brought the climate change strategy against the backdrop of a fierce battle with the Trudeau government regarding carbon pricing. Ford fired the latest shots on Wednesday, blaming a federal carbon tax planned for General Motors' plan to shut down an assembly plant in Oshawa, although GM announced at the same time it intends to close four US factories as well.

Ontario is currently joining Saskatchewan in a court battle against measures to impose a federal carbon pricing scheme in provinces that do not have one of their own. Ottawa has responded by passing the Ford government and sending $ 420 million from its Low Carbon Economy Fund directly to cities, hospitals, universities, schools and businesses to help with efficiency programs and other emission reduction efforts.

One of Ford's first steps as prime minister was to remove the Liberal government's climate change plan, which was built on a cap-and-trade program, which forced companies to pay permission to issue GHG. Ford campaigned vigorously against cap-and-trade, characterized it as a carbon tax and called it "the worst tax ever."

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Specific targets for emission reductions in today's plan will be very important, said Ontario NDP climate change critic Peter Tabuns.

"Are there targets that will really protect people from dangerous climate change? That is an important part. If [the plan] don't have that, then the rest isn't worth seeing, "Tabun said in an interview this week.

"If [Phillips] it does not have a carbon price at all, but it shows real projects, real policies that will reduce emissions, and he can show how they will decrease, and he shows how they will be paid, then it can be credible, "Tabun said.

When Ontario Premier Doug Ford, right, met federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer in Queen's Park in October, the couple said they were united in their opposition to the carbon tax. (Chris Young / Canadian Press)

But he added that he was "very skeptical" that it would be a case of the Ford government. "They might be interested in doing some public relations, some spinning on this issue, but not really addressing it."

The PC promised during the election campaign to create emission reduction funds, offered public money to companies that came up with innovative ways to reduce their greenhouse gas output. That is a signal that a plan might be borrowed from the model currently used by the conservative government of Australia – a plan that has been criticized for failing to reduce state emissions.

Philips said it was looking for jurisdictions around the world, including Australia, in developing the plan.

"The situation in Ontario is very different from the situation in Alberta or the situation in New Brunswick because the electricity sector and our network are almost 100 percent green," Phillips said. "This is why solutions made in Ontario make sense."

Ontario has brought down greenhouse gas emissions by 22 percent from 2005 levels, largely due to the demolition of all coal-fired power plants, but also because of a decline in provincial manufacturing output since that date.

A report released Tuesday by the United Nations environmental office said that greenhouse gas emissions worldwide continued to increase, and that emissions must fall 55 percent from 2017 levels by 2030 to prevent global average temperatures from increasing by more than 1.5 degrees.


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