Ontario has a new Minister
I sometimes meet people who are not interested in politics and have few opinions in that area, but more often I meet people who have political opinions. I certainly fall into the latter category, but I truly believe that climate change solutions and priorities should not be a partisan discussion. Because of the way the issue has evolved in the western world, climate change has become political, but it shouldn’t be. Sometimes I meet conservative leaning people and I talk to them about climate change as an opportunity to save money and start promising new businesses. Some have said they can agree to this in private, but say they have been pushed into a corner in public, by what they perceive to be ‘over-the-top lefties who don’t believe in market economies’.
As we now know, many of our proven climate solutions are less expensive, better at creating jobs, and represent simple economic & technological progress, in addition to being healthy for people and the planet.
Still politics is a bit of a game, and within that game we need to try to respect each other. About half of the Province of Ontario recently voted for Premier Doug Ford, who during the campaign suggested that the cap and trade program and GreenON were a waste of money. He made a promise to end those programs and it appears the government is in the process of keeping that promise. Rather than waste a lot of time railing against something he and his support base believe is a correct path, I decided to make a recommendation that might be useful to them.
I have worked on many political campaigns and know a bit about strategy. I think he could satisfy the people who voted for him and also some of the people that didn’t, by doing some creative programming. As a green journalist I have studied and written about various financing structures in the past few years that allow people to manage the up front costs of big clean energy projects like rooftop solar panels or geothermal systems. As we know, the up front part is the key challenge, because these systems always pay for themselves in less than 10 years and last more than 20 years. Some of the financing instruments I’m talking about are listed in the graphic accompanying this post and details on some of them can be found elsewhere in my blog at bfnagy.com. Building retrofits are a very important solution for climate change, and these initiatives can help people afford them, without burdening other taxpayers. Below is the letter I wrote to Doug Ford’s new Environment Minister.
Hon. Rod Phillips
Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
Congratulations on your recent electoral victory and appointment to Cabinet. I’m an eastern Toronto author and would like to offer a helpful suggestion about replacing Cap and Trade while minimizing budgetary impact.
You have shown that most Ontarians don’t care about cash incentives, and studies show that citizens will undertake improvements to homes and business buildings, install cleaner HVAC, and drive lower emission vehicles, with little more than improved financing options.
Some states have spent almost no money organizing financing entities, and this could be a way for your government to manage the tax burden, while addressing clean energy.
I’ve published 150+ articles on energy, based on 700+ interviews with energy and government experts. I’m a pragmatist who writes about economic progress. My new book talks about solutions and priorities, and will be published by Rowman & Littlefield in Washington DC in October. My articles have appeared in international and mainstream press. During the book tour I want to be able to say that the new Ontario government has replaced one solution with another, that will have significant impact without costing a lot of public money.
I could meet you in Ajax for a cup of coffee and describe the structure of some of the financing instruments that are successful in other jurisdictions, although I’m confident you already have access to expertise like mine. So this letter is really just a suggestion: Financing help for Ontarians could be the perfect clean energy strategy for the new government.