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Making Progress On Climate Change

Dr. Helena Jaczek, MMP, Oak Ridges – Markham

In Ontario, we are blessed with abundant natural resources and a pristine environment. We breathe clean air, drink clean water, and enjoy our green space.

But there are many people in many places around the world who no longer enjoy these same blessings. Their water has become contaminated, the air they breathe polluted. And if we aren’t vigilant, we could all too easily find ourselves headed down a similar path.

Fortunately, as Ontarians, we all share the goal of preserving our environment. We’ve learned that protecting our environment is not just about leaving something for our children here and now, but for their children in the future also.

As the MPP for Oak Ridges-Markham, I am proud to be part of a government that has become one of North America’s leading jurisdictions in protecting its air, water, green space and wilderness.

Over the past two years, Ontario has taken substantive actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.

We set tough climate change reduction targets, which have now been in place since 2007

We are phasing out use of coal-generated electricity - the single largest greenhouse gas reduction initiative in Canada.

We are investing $32.5 billion in 2009 in infrastructure, which includes support for green energy and transit.

We have been working with other jurisdictions, including Quebec and western provinces and states, to develop a cap-and-trade system that aligns with the American approach

We are taking steps to permanently protect over 225,000 square kilometres of the Far North Boreal Region, important for its ability to absorb carbon, making it a globally significant carbon sink.

And we are considering advice received from Ontario's Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and building on existing initiatives to build a more climate resilient province.

Recently, our government received a report that reinforces what we have known all along: our efforts are working. On December 2nd, the Minister of the Environment announced that the Climate Change Action Plan 2008-2009 Annual Report reinforces that our government is making significant progress in cutting its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

According to the report, the initiatives already in place have the potential to bring the province 71 per cent of the way toward its 2014 greenhouse gas reduction targets and 56 per cent toward its 2020 targets. Initiatives, like the proposed cap and trade system, will assist us in achieving additional reductions.

Last year, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario recommended our government take additional steps to be more transparent in public reporting. So we responded by having the numbers in this year’s report validated by a third-party, making Ontario the only jurisdiction to use a third-party to validate its emission reduction forecasts.

The report confirms Ontario’s position as a Canadian leader in achieving real greenhouse gas reductions in advance of the COP-15 conference in Copenhagen.

Our government is making real progress towards meeting our targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But while our progress is real, we still have more to do in the months and years ahead.

Protecting the environment and our planet has become the issue of our generation and our most important responsibility to future generations.

To find out more about climate change and what our government is doing to address this issue, visit www.gogreenontario.ca, or contact my constituency office at (905) 294-4931.

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