Open letter to Premier Ford re: Ontario climate action

The following open letter was sent to the Premier and to the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks on August 8, 2018:

August 8, 2018
Hon. Doug Ford, Premier
cc. Hon. Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks
Legislative Building , Queen’s Park  | Toronto,ON | M7A 1A1

Dear Premier Ford,

Ontarians across the province are experiencing a summer of record-breaking heat waves, floods, forest fires and heat-related human  health crises  Like other countries and states around the world, Ontario is experiencing first-hand the uncertainty, expense and loss that result from a changing climate.

As the leader of the provincial government, you have a responsibility to the people of Ontario to do your utmost to safeguard them from these dangers and to ensure these risks don’t grow, unchecked, in coming years. Yet your first acts in office have focused on  revoking Ontario’s existing climate policies while offering no alternative climate plan to replace them.

Canada’s primary network of organizations working on climate change and energy issues, Climate Action Network Canada is a coalition of more than 115 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Many of our members are based in the province of Ontario.

We, the undersigned, write to you today to articulate our expectations that:
Your government publicly commit to achieving Ontario’s existing legislated emissions reduction goals, and;
Your government table a detailed, scientifically sound plan to meet these legislated goals as soon as possible.
Ontario needs a strong, decisive climate plan in place to ensure the province is working hard to reduce its contribution to the global carbon pollution that drives climate change - climate change that is already having very direct and serious impacts on the lives of everyday Ontarians.

The costs for fire suppression, fire- and flood-related property losses, and heat wave-triggered health interventions are contributing to tens of millions of new and growing financial burdens to Ontarians. 831 fires have been recorded as of the first week of August,  besting by more than 60% the ten year average of 511 fires per year. Early spring floods  this year caused catastrophic damages, declarations of  states of emergency, and  loss of life in southwestern Ontario.  Over $124 million in insured flooding damage was  declared in the Windsor region alone in the one month of August in 2017.  Over this Canada Day weekend, we saw the highest yet recorded humidex values for southern Ontario -  Ottawa hit humidex values of 47 degrees Celsius -  while in neighbouring Quebec, as many as  70 deaths were attributed to the same early July heat wave.
In 2016, the  Legislative Assembly of Ontario set ambitious yet achievable emissions reduction targets aligned with the actions of other provinces and states and in line with global objectives*. Despite significant progress to date**, Ontario remains the country’s second most carbon polluting province, after Alberta. We still have our work cut out for us and  we call on your government to show the leadership demanded by the climate crisis.

We look forward to learning how your government plans to address this issue in a timely manner.
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Canadian Interfaith Fast for the Climate
Canadian Labour Congress
Citizens Climate Lobby Canada
Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario
Citizens for Public Justice
Clean Air Partnership
Climate Action Network - Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) Canada
Climate Justice Saskatoon
Climate Reality Project Canada
Council of Canadians
Ecology Action Centre
Ecology Ottawa
Energy Mix Productions
Environmental Defence Canada
Foundation for Environmental Stewardship
Green 13
Green Neighbours 21
Greenpeace Canada
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
National Union of Public and General Employees
Noor Cultural Centre
Ontario Clean Air Alliance
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
Passive Buildings Canada
The Pembina Institute
Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County
Sierra Club Ontario
Toronto Conference United Church of Canada
Toronto Environmental Alliance
West Coast Environmental Law
Wilderness Committee
World Federalist Movement - Canada

* Ontario’s goals: a reduction in 1990 emissions levels of 15 per cent in 2020, 37 per cent in 2030 and 80 per cent in 2050.
** Based on greenhouse gas reporting data, Ontario has met its 2014 target of six per cent below 1990 levels. The province achieved this goal in part by closing all of Ontario's coal-fired electricity-generating stations. This remains one of the single largest greenhouse gas reduction actions implemented to date in North America.