Joint Statement on Climate Change from the Premiers of Ontario and Québec
Today, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Québec Premier Philippe Couillard issued the following statement on climate change:
"We are at the forefront of the fight against climate change and we want Canada to be a leader on this issue of critical importance.
Last week, in front of international leaders and experts, including Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, we were present at the Québec Summit on Climate Change, where the vast majority of Canadian provinces and territories were represented. Eleven premiers, representing over 85 per cent of the Canadian population, made a joint declaration stating that, "carbon pricing is an approach that is being taken by an increasing number of governments" and that "investing in the fight against climate change, especially in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cleaner energy production, holds great promise for sustainable economic development and long-term job creation."
Clearly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's statement yesterday that emission reduction plans are 'designed to enrich governments,' does not reflect the declaration made at the Québec Summit.
People across Canada and the world are worried about climate change. They are concerned about what it is costing us and how it is endangering our environment. As it is written in the declaration, the Prime Minister should recognize that because "Arctic states such as Canada are particularly vulnerable and disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, adaptation must complement ambitious mitigation measures to address the effects climate change is having on Canada's northern regions."
Climate change is already hurting our environment, causing extreme weather like floods and droughts, and hurting our ability to grow food in some regions. Over the near term, it will increase the cost of food and insurance, harm wildlife and nature, and eventually make the world inhospitable for our children and grandchildren.
The governments of Québec and Ontario are proud of the work that we have already undertaken to address climate change. Last year Ontario closed coal-fired electricity generating plants in Ontario for good -- the largest single action ever taken in North America to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In Québec, a carbon market (cap and trade system) is at the centre of the government's strategy for fighting climate change. Last year, Québec linked its carbon market with California's through the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), creating the largest regional carbon market in North America. And, as announced last week, Ontario will also implement a cap and trade system and intends to link it to Québec and California's joint carbon market, once Ontario has developed the necessary compatible and coherent mechanisms.
This will make the carbon market more stable, minimize the costs of implementing the system and provide a consistent approach to GHG emitters in both Québec and Ontario, which represent a major share of the Canadian economy. The Ontario government will reinvest the money raised through cap and trade in a transparent way back into projects that reduce greenhouse gas pollution and help businesses remain competitive. Indeed, tackling climate change represents an economic opportunity for major Canadian sectors to reduce their costs and grow their exports.
Already, Québec has reinvested carbon market revenues in initiatives aimed at further reducing GHG emissions and helping Québec's residents adapt to the effects of climate change. Québec will invest more than $3.3 billion toward this goal by 2020, contributing to the growth of its economy.
We strongly believe that good environmental policy is good economic policy. But so far, almost all of the progress Canada has made on climate change is the result of provincial action. Once Ontario's new system is implemented, more than 75 per cent of Canada's population will be covered by carbon pricing.
Ontario and Québec are home to 62 per cent of Canada's population, and together we make up the fourth-largest economic zone in North America, with a Gross Domestic Product of more than $1 trillion. When we work together, it makes an enormous difference.
Emission reduction plans have important benefits for the environment, for our economy and for Canadians. We take this opportunity today, and as 11 premiers did last week through the Québec City declaration, to again invite the federal government to partner with us "in a concerted effort to develop an ambitious contribution from Canada at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change."
Let's make real progress on climate change."