A $65-billion climate plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 is at the root of the Ontario Green Party election platform, with a focus on electrifying vehicles and making buildings more energy-efficient.
Leader Mike Schreiner said some may criticize the price tag of the four-year commitment as being “overly ambitious,” but countered that it’s necessary to ensure a sustainable future.
In its platform released Thursday, the Green Party pledges to cut carbon pollution in half by 2030 and reach net-zero 15 years later. This timeline is five years ahead of the platform promises from the Liberals and NDP, which promise to reach net-zero by 2050. While in government, the Progressive Conservatives pledged to hit a 30-per-cent reduction in emissions by 2030.
“It’s not overly ambitious to ensure that our children have a livable future and a stable climate. It’s not overly ambitious to say that we want Ontario to be a global leader in the new climate economy,” said Mr. Shcreiner, the party’s only MPP elected in 2018, during the Green platform release event in Toronto. “That’s what Ontario needs in this moment.”
The climate strategy consists of several initiatives to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, including investments in transitioning to electric vehicles (EV) and retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient. Mr. Schreiner said a Green government would provide cash incentives up to $10,000 for buying a new EV and phase out the sale of new gas and diesel passenger vehicles and buses by 2030.
In order to support the transition to electric, the party pledges to require all new or re-surfaced parking lots to install EV charging stations as well as provide a tax incentive for businesses to install charging infrastructure.
The plan also includes reintroducing a provincial carbon price and increasing the cost by $25 annually until it reaches $300 per tonne in 2032. Revenues from the increased carbon price would be returned to residents as dividends.
Mr. Schreiner said the Greens would implement new fees and taxes to pay for the plan, including a “congestion charge” to travel by vehicle in certain parts of the province during peak hours. Details on locations or hours weren’t provided in the platform, but the party projects annual revenue of $1.6-billion from the fee.
A Green government would also increase the corporate tax by 2 per cent over two years for large companies, introduce a 1-per-cent surcharge on households with an annual income over $200,000 and work with the federal government to implement a tax for individuals with a net wealth over $10-million. The party would also cancel the planned temporary gas-tax reduction set to come into effect in July and bring back licence-plate renewal fees.
Mr. Schreiner defended the increased taxes in his party’s platform as necessary to meet the needs of the province and fund urgent climate priorities.
“This platform meets the moment that we are in, the now or never moment to address the climate crisis,” he said.
The party’s four-year financial outlook doesn’t balance the books, with a projected 2025-26 deficit $1.2-billion higher than that projected in the PC’s budget. But Mr. Schreiner said he sees a path to balance in the following term by 2027-28, which is the same timeframe as the PC Party. The Liberal plan projects a balanced budget a year prior and the NDP have yet to release a fully-costed plan for their platform promises.
The Greens have also committed to doubling rates for the Ontario Disability Support Program, which is the largest increase promised out of all the parties. Both the NDP and Liberals have pledged a 20 per cent increase and the PCs announced a plan to raise rates by 5 per cent. The party promises to make the day of a general election a paid holiday and launch a citizen-led panel to bring forward recommendations on reforming Ontario’s electoral system.
Election day in Ontario is June 2.
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