doug ford climate change ontario

Doug Ford's 2.5-page climate change report doesn't even mention climate change

It's election season in Ontario, and Doug Ford's PC Party is in full campaign mode, clear in the language of every official announcement from the province this spring.

When it comes to environmental policy, Ford is walking a political tightrope, passing climate change legislature while still setting emissions targets well below the federal government's guidelines and appearing extremely careful to avoid language that would upset the hardline-right share of his voter base.

Earlier in April, the Ford government quietly released a report titled not so compactly as "Ontario's responsible and balanced approach to meeting the federal benchmark for the Emissions Performance Standards industrial emissions program for 2023-2030," which I'm just going to shorten to "ORBATMFBEPSIEP-23/30" and then never say again.

The bulletin contains over 600 words, yet somehow, in an almost comical defiance of reality, the word "climate" appears exactly once.

The brief announcement links to a 2.5-page report titled "Ontario Emissions Scenario as of March 25, 2022," where the aforementioned word isn't even used at all, though the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks managed to get the word "Ontario" in an impressive 21 times.

This single instance of "climate" is not followed by the word "change" as logic would dictate, but instead, used in the context of guiding principles for "minimizing the risk for carbon leakage (the risk of production leaving the province for other jurisdictions with less stringent climate policies), taking into account competitiveness impacts to Ontario industry."

So, "open for business" once again takes precedence over the planet. Though it shouldn't really come as much of a surprise, as climate change denial has been somewhat of a running theme throughout the Ford administration.

Fatima Syed, a journalist with The Narwhal, wrote a scathing article on the province's report, though even just bringing the report to wider attention has been enough to generate outrage, as the language and figures speak for themselves.

Her article and corresponding Twitter thread offer a fascinating deep dive into the confusing and contradictory data behind the province's claims of being "the leader of Canada's progress on emission reductions and is committed to meeting our 2030 reduction target."

Ford's 2018 Made-in-Ontario plan committed to cutting down on the province's emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The province says in the report that its Jan. 2022-launched "Emissions Performance Standards (EPS) program is working to help us meet this target by regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large industrial facilities."

But it's not exactly clear how this EPS program is working, and the new plan even downgrades its ambitions, axing an emissions-reduction policy included in the Made-in-Ontario plan that earmarked $400 million towards private investment in clean technologies.

Environmental policy has never really been Doug Ford's strength, and he's shown his true colours on the matter time and time again in his four years in power.

It's unlikely any deep dive, even one as thoughtfully researched as The Narwhal's, will force the premier to reverse course if re-elected, but it's still damn funny to see a government accused of climate change skepticism release a report that goes so far out of its way to avoid stating the obvious.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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