Message from Ecology Ottawa
June 14, 2016: After years of discussion, debate and delay, we’re now seeing serious movement on climate change from every level of government impacting Ottawa.
Right now, the federal government is consulting widely on an impending national-level climate plan. Ecology Ottawa volunteers and concerned citizens are attending area consultations in droves and driving home the importance of strong federal action on pipelines, fossil fuel subsidies and investing in the clean energy economy. Meanwhile, the City of Ottawa is forging ahead with a renewable energy strategy and is working to implement its 2014 Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan.
And just last week, following on the heels of a commitment to a strong cap-and-trade system, the Government of Ontario announced its Climate Change Action Plan. The plan – pegged at $8.3 billion over five years and aimed at the most heavily polluting sectors of transportation and buildings – is one of the most ambitious in the country, and marks the beginning of a new era in provincial-level climate progress. The plan covers everything from electric vehicle subsidies to retrofitting buildings to better waste management practices. It clearly takes the threat of climate change seriously and puts forward a range of measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and rapidly deploying new technologies, renewable energy tools and measures aimed at energy efficiency and conservation.
Governments move on issues when a critical mass of people demand it. Your support has been critical to the success we’ve seen so far and is essential to ensure these climate ambitions become a reality. That’s why we’re asking – as part of our five-week-long fundraising campaign – for your support today. Please consider donating $25, $50 or $100 today to make continued progress possible at this important time.
There’s plenty to chew on in the province’s 86-page plan. From our vantage point, one of its most interesting dimensions is its focus on cities, which are deeply impacted by provincial policy. Ultimately, the Climate Change Action Plan is a tool that will help build a better, greener Ottawa. We know that fighting climate change and building great communities are two sides of the same coin. The plan sets the groundwork for an Ottawa comprised of prosperous and compact neighbourhoods, bustling with pedestrians and cyclists, fuelled by renewable energy, and connected by world class public transportation. Some of its key actions that will help Ontario’s cities include: eliminating minimum parking space requirements and instead encouraging wider sidewalks and bike lanes; significant and sustained funding for cycling and pedestrian infrastructure; expanding electric vehicle charging stations; investing in public transit; supporting the creation and implementation of community energy plans; and requiring cities to include climate change strategies in their official plans.
No plan is perfect, and it makes sense to be concerned about proper implementation. We were disappointed to see the province back away from early reports of working to phase out natural gas. Ultimately, if the province is serious about reducing emissions in line with scientifically-established targets, we must work to fully decarbonize our heating, cooling and electrification systems. Also, critics are right to point out that the devil is in the plan’s details and roll-out. As a community of engaged and concerned citizens, it’s our job to hold the province to its commitments over time. We must ensure that it implements effective policies where it has promised them and strives to flesh them out in greater detail where they are currently unclear. But on the whole, this plan is a bold move that takes us in the right direction. We believe that people should be welcoming this news, congratulating the government, and challenging the naysayers who would generally prefer to do nothing!
And what difference a few months makes. Not so long ago, we had a federal government that went out of its way to stifle climate progress. And prior to that, we had a municipal government showing no clear commitment to renewing its climate plan or taking advantage of the massive potential of a renewable energy transition. In that context, ambitious provincial actions like the one we saw last week would have been diluted, rather than supported and enhanced, by inaction at other levels of government. Now we have three levels of government moving in lockstep on climate. With the wind in our sails, it’s up to us to seize the opportunity and continue to push for action.
We need to seize the momentum and let all elected leaders know this is the right direction for the province and our city. Not all mobilization is against something. Sometimes it’s about supporting, monitoring and pushing it even further. Your donations help ensure that Ottawa and Ontario keep moving in the right direction on climate action at this time. That’s why we’re urging you to make a donation today.
Thank you to all those who have given to help make this work possible and to you, for being a part of this change!
Graham, Tamsin, Alex, John, Anik, Danyka, Robb and the entire Ecology Ottawa team