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We Need Climate Action From Ford Government, Not Another Study’: Activists

We Need Climate Action From Ford Government, Not  Another Study’: Activists
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A protester at a rally to stop climate change outside a Toronto courthouse, April 15, 2019. The Ontario government was challenging the federal government s carbon tax.

TORONTO The Ontario governments plan to look at the impacts of climate change once again fails to show its serious about curbing the crisis, say activists.

The proposed assessment is the only new environment item in the fall economic statement, released Wednesday. It will examine the provinces economy, environment, infrastructure and communities, to assess in which areas it is most vulnerable, Environment Minister Jeff Yurek said in a statement Thursday .

We want evidence-based information that can be applied to local communities in order to make the changes needed to deal with climate change,Yurek told reporters.

Steve Russell/Getty Images

Environment Minister Jeff Yurek answers a question at Queen s Park, Feb. 19, 2019.

By 2022, the data gathered will help inform where and what the province and municipalities should invest in to prevent damage from extreme weather events, such as the April 2018 ice storm that caused $190 million in property damage or a wind storm one month later that resulted in $380 in damages, the government said.

The assessment is fine. Its great to have an understanding of the impacts of climate change, and as the governments own release states, its costing millions and millions of dollars in damage, said Keith Brooks, programs director at Environmental Defence. But its not a solution to the problem.

We do not need another report to know that Ontario badly needs to dramatically reduce our fossil fuel emissions, starting immediately, and that many actions of this government are increasing future damage and reducing our options, she said.

NurPhoto/Getty Images

Protesters at a rally to stop climate change outside a Toronto courthouse, April 15, 2019. The Ontario government was challenging the federal government s carbon tax.

Premier Doug Fords government has come under fire for killing a number of initiatives meant to lower greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.

The 200-page economic statement, for example, highlights cancelling more than $750 renewable energy contracts to save constituents money and repeatedly mentions ending the cap-and-trade agreement . It replaced it with the Ontario Carbon Trust , an investment fund costing taxpayers $400 million over four years, which the province claims will kickstart private investment in green technology.

The Ford government continues to oppose the federal governments carbon tax, and has said .

The province is also undoing decades of progress built up by all political parties, Brooks said. A new bill aimed at reducing red tape for businesses weakens environmental, agriculture and mining regulations, among many others.

Its also not following its own plan to reduce emissions, plagued with weak targets and measures that were not well thought out, said Brooks.

Theyre actually failing to grasp how governments should be addressing issues like plastic, litter, waste and climate change.Keith Brooks

Environmental Defence recently released a report evaluating the PCs progress to date and found promises like replacing federal emission performance standards with a set of its own would actually increase greenhouse gas emissions. The advocacy group predicts other promises, such as increasing renewable content in gasoline, arent achievable and theres been little to no action.

More than 20 groups, including Environmental Defence, calling for more action on climate change.

In the last year weve seen the destruction of every program that made Ontario a leader on climate change action, the letter says. And weve seen this government go into hibernation on a crisis that threatens the future of our friends and loved ones.

The only time the environment is mentioned in the budget implementation act, tabelled Wednesday following the fall economic statement, is to create an official day of action on litter to encourage Ontarians to pick up garbage in public places and waterways.

We are unifying people all across the province under one amazing initiative so people can find hope, said MPP Andrea Khanjin, who led the project to complement Earth Day and Waste Reduction Week.

Everyone wants to do something for their environment, and feel like theyre doing their part and the best part is they are doing their part.

Brooks wasnt convinced, and said introducing an action day on litter is an example of the Ford governments problematic approach to climate change.

Theyre either trying to confuse people and pretend they really do care about the environment, he said, or theyre actually failing to grasp how governments should be addressing issues like plastic, litter, waste and climate change.
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