OTTAWA — Premier Doug Ford defended his “Made in Ontario” climate change plan on Friday, saying the province is on track to meet its emissions reduction targets for 2030 — a claim the auditor general said is not based on sound evidence.
Ford, who has launched a legal challenge of the federal government’s carbon tax, said it is too early for critics to pan his Progressive Conservative government’s plan, which was launched over a year ago.
“We’re going to continue working hard on it,” said Ford, adding that people should wait until 2030 before they criticize his government’s 10-year plan.
“Let’s see how it goes,” he said.
On Wednesday, Ontario’s auditor general Bonnie Lysyk found a number of issues with Ford government’s climate plan, which she said underestimated the starting point for emissions by including several green programs that were actually cancelled by the Tories after they came to power last year.
Some reductions in the plan were double-counted or overstated, while others weren’t backed up by policies to achieve those targets, Lysyk said in her annual report.
Ford praised Lysyk for the report but said Ontario is currently a national leader on the environment, and he’s confident the province can meet its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.
“We’re one of the leading provinces in the country ... but we have to start looking at technology,” he said. “We’re investing $28.5 billion (in a) ... transit project in Toronto. It will bring tens of thousands of cars off the street.”
The province would have to reduce emissions by 17.6 megatonnes by 2030 to align with Canada’s target under the Paris Agreement. But the provincial government’s plan, the auditor found, will only reduce emissions by between 6.3 and 13 megatonnes.
Our audit concluded that the emission-reduction estimates in the plan are not based on sound evidence or sufficient detail.Auditor general's report
The government’s own analysis shows that the current initiatives in the climate change plan will only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10.9 megatonnes, the report said.
“Our audit concluded that the emission-reduction estimates in the plan are not based on sound evidence or sufficient detail,” the report said. “In its current early state, the plan is not likely to achieve its proposed emission reduction target.”
On Thursday, Ford’s environment minister said their party had failed to find solutions to climate change.
“I think what has happened is the Conservative party has remained silent on the climate change initiative and has not really given forth ideas that are really needed to move forward,” Jeff Yurek told reporters at Queen’s Park.
NDP climate change critic Peter Tabuns said he was not surprised at Ford’s comments about the Tories’ climate strategy.
“I’ve never seen him particularly face reality when it comes to climate and environmental issues,” he said. “He just makes stuff up.”
Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the government is in “full scramble mode” after the auditor general put their plan under the microscope.
“She delivered a smack-down of Ford’s plan, uncovering the magic math and anti-climate policies that are leaving Ontario far off its emissions reduction targets,” he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2019.
With a file from Emma Paling