Ideas for Ontario's Climate Change Strategy

After releasing a discussion paper on climate change, the Ontario government has opened it up to public consultation. Here is my open letter to Glen Murray, Minister of Environment & Climate Change:

Dear Minister Murray, 

Thank you for opening this topic up for discussion. I am excited that Ontario is taking a leadership role on climate change, and I applaud you and your staff for the work that you are doing.

Great job on the mission statements. It’s very clear what we are trying to accomplish:

  1. Establish Ontario as a leader in climate change mitigation and science
  2. Redesign and build strong carbon neutral economy, communities, infrastructure and energy
  3. Leave a legacy of a healthy world for our children and future generations
  4. Protect ecosystems, including air, land and water  

Since you’ve opened up the floor, here are my ideas:

1. Crown Corporations Lead on Carbon Disclosure

We need to measure what matters, and carbon emissions matter a lot. Only 55% of companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange have filled out the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) survey. This means that 45% of Canadian companies aren’t disclosing, well below the global average of 80%. I propose that Ontario crown corporations lead by example and commit to filing an annual sustainability report, including answers to the CDP survey. This action lays a path towards working with TMX Group to mandate carbon disclosure for all companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange. 

2. Strong Guidelines on Green Revenue

The introduction of a price on carbon dovetails nicely with another revenue tool - Green Bonds. Ontario’s successful $500 million raise was over-subscribed, reflecting the large appetite for green bonds among international investors. Ontario’s green bond framework lays out specific sectors for which green bonds are eligible:

Clean Transportation; Energy Efficiency & Conservation; Clean Energy & Technology; Forestry, Agriculture & Land Management; and Climate Adaptation & Resilience.

I propose that Ontario earmarks the proceeds from a carbon price for these same initiatives. Revenue from carbon pricing can pay for ongoing operating expenses, while green bonds can be used for up-front capital costs. This earmarking will help create a carbon-neutral economy, and will position Ontario as a leader in these green sectors. Additionally, it will combat the inevitable opposition to carbon pricing, since revenue tools earmarked for a specific purpose (ie. Health Premium, Gas Tax, etc) are more readily accepted by the public.

Thanks again for the opportunity to share my ideas. You have my vocal support.

Cheers,

Timothy Nash

The Sustainable Economist

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