On November 28th, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Park, Jeff Yurek, announced the appointment of his Advisory Panel on Climate Change. The government’s announcement fell on the one-year anniversary of the Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan.
The role of the panel is to provide expert advice on the implementation of the province’s climate change plan, with a focus on how Ontarians can prepare for the financial costs and environmental impacts of climate change.
Minister Yurek says that “he is proud of the progress the government has made so far and looks forward to the advisory’s panel’s advice on how the government can continue to take action on the plan’s climate change commitments, in a way that respects hardworking Ontarians, and balances a healthy environment with a healthy economy”.
The following individuals were appointed to the advisory panel:
- Paul Kovacs (Chair)- Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction at Western University.
- Lynette Mader (Vice-Chair)- Manager of Provincial Operations for Ontario for Ducks Unlimited Canada.
- Alex Gill– Executive Director of the Ontario Environment Industry Association.
- Blair Feltmate- Head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo.
- Georjann Morriseau- Director of Indigenous Affairs and Public Relations at Resolute Forest Products.
- John Riley– Science advisor to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).
- Katherine Balpataky– Director of Corporate Partnerships and Business Development for Alternative Land Use Services Canada.
- Keith Currie– President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).
- Patricia Koval– Corporate director and lawyer in Toronto.
- Todd Jerry– the Director of Government Relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Minister Yurek also highlighted the government’s Progress on the environment front. Some of these achievements include:
- Beginning to transition to 15% renewable content in regular grade gasoline as early as 2025
- Finalizing Ontario’s emissions performance standards for large, industrial emitters to ensure polluters are accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions
- Issuing Green Bonds for $1.7 billion to capitalize on the province’s ability to raise funds at low interest rates
- Naming a Special Advisor on flooding
- Appointing a Special Advisor for Ontario Parks
While OSPE commends some of the actions outlined in the environment plan, as well as the appointment of an Advisory Panel on Climate Change , we believe it does not do enough to reduce carbon emissions. There remain several areas needing improvement.
Without input from knowledge-based and subject matter experts, like engineers, policies will not be optimized for their full economic and environmental potential. OSPE has consistently advocated for this group to include members of the engineering community, which it still does not.
The technical expertise engineers bring will play a critical role in alleviating the negative effects of climate change. By not tapping into a knowledge base that already exists in our province, the government risks creating policies that do not fully minimize environmental harm while maximizing economic growth. Because of this, OSPE believes it is important that the government gather industry experts to assist in developing concrete steps that identify opportunities for growth, competitiveness, and prosperity in the rapidly changing environmental sector.
OSPE will continue to work with this government to promote the voice of engineers when it comes to climate change. We will continue to advocate for engineer representation on future advisory panels on climate
OSPE always stands ready to work with government officials from all parties to deliver on a vision of growth, prosperity and a cleaner environment for the benefit of the people of Ontario.
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This advisory panel made some critical decisions on climate change and the decisions they make will have a positive impact on climate change. We need good things in this pandemic and this was one of the few things.