The provincial government’s Climate Change Action Plan and new cap-and-trade program aim to reduce greenhouses gases, address the impacts of climate change, and move Ontario to a lower-carbon economy. But it could also have unwanted impacts on low-income households and communities.
While strong action from government on climate change is critically important, low-income Ontarians could be negatively impacted by the rising cost of carbon related to government’s cap-and-trade system.
Taking the lead from our sister clinic, CELA (the Canadian Environmental Law Association), and as a member of LIEN, the Low-Income Energy Network, ISAC made a submission to government in May asking that amendments be made to its cap-and-trade legislation to ensure that impacts on low-income Ontarians are mitigated.
We’re happy to report that two important positive changes were made to Bill 172.
First, low-income and vulnerable communities now must be considered in the government’s Climate Change Action Plan.
Second, the needs of low-income and vulnerable communities must now be considered when determining how the revenues from the cap-and-trade plan are being spent.
As well, the Minister must publicly report on how well the initiatives that are funded fit with these requirements.
These changes don’t go as far as advocates would have liked, but they are an important step toward ensuring that the disproportionate impacts that low-income Ontarians already face due to climate change aren’t compounded by additional costs resulting from the cap-and-trade system itself.
ISAC will continue to work with CELA and others on these issues as government moves forward with its Climate Change Action Plan.