In the run-up to the provincial government's Ottawa consultation on the Long-Term Energy Plan on November 23, Ecology Ottawa signed onto a joint letter with leading environmental organizations across Canada regarding the transition to 100% renewable energy. The text of this letter is below.
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It is time for Ontario to join the global movement toward 100 % renewable energy.
More than 1,000 cities around the world, including Vancouver and Oxford County in Ontario, have already committed to transition their communities to 100% renewable energy by 2050. We want the Ontario government’s next energy plan to ensure citizens and communities are empowered to make the shift to 100% renewables.
Meeting Ontario’s electricity, heating, and transportation energy needs with sustainable renewable energy is achievable. We currently produce more than a quarter of our electricity with renewable sources like water, wind, solar and biogas, and with costs falling and technologies improving we can quickly add more.
A 100% renewable future will eliminate the damage being done by our current dirty energy system. Ontario’s fossil plants contribute to climate change and air and water pollution at a time when the province has committed to reducing carbon pollution and showing leadership on climate change. Our nuclear plants produce long-lived radioactive waste and put our communities and the Great Lakes – the source of drinking water for tens of millions of people - at risk of a nuclear accident. Nuclear is expensive and dangerous – which is why plans for nuclear power are being mothballed around the globe.
The Ontario government needs to remove barriers to the fast adoption of renewable energy while also helping us make the best use of this clean green energy, through enhanced efforts to increase efficiency, conservation, storage, district heating and electric mobility.
Switching to 100% renewables means:
Putting Conservation First - Efficiency and conservation are the cheapest source of energy and have the lowest impact on the environment. They also help to ensure the green energy we produce goes further. According to government studies, we have the technical potential to cut our electricity demand by half before 2040.
Empowering Ontarians – A switch to renewable energy will also mean a switch to a more decentralized energy system where everyone from citizens, co-ops and schools to municipalities, small businesses and First Nations communities can become energy producers. A more localized system, with opportunities for community-ownership and participation will also increase public support for renewables, and provide more jobs - and more importantly, local jobs in communities across Ontario.
Building Resilient Communities - Climate scientists predict increasingly erratic weather in the coming decades – everything from ice storms and flooding to severe heat. We need to strengthen our local power production and distribution systems and rely less on a small handful of giant power plants in order to reliably keep the lights on. To do that, we need to give communities the tools they need to go 100% renewable.
Seizing Opportunities - The cost of renewable energy and smart grid technologies is declining rapidly. Ontario’s energy plan needs to ensure we are ready to take advantage of innovation in the clean energy sector to lower our energy bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen system resilience and increase the number of Ontarian citizens, businesses and communities who benefit from generating zero emission energy.
Keeping the Nuclear Industry Responsible for Risks and Costs – The biggest barrier to making the switch to 100% renewable energy is the government’s plan to spend billions to keep Ontario’s aging nuclear reactors operating. To ensure Ontario can make the switch to safer 100% renewables and take advantage of innovation in the clean-tech sector, we need to replace reactors with renewable energy. To do that, we need a full and fair comparison of the total costs of nuclear with alternatives and an opportunity for the public to have a say about which approach they prefer.
Less Pollution - Communities fought big gas plants for good reason – they pollute. We need cleaner air in our communities, and renewable power can provide it.
Cutting carbon - Ontario has shown leadership by getting rid of coal – and we’re all better off because of it. Now, as the province gets serious about climate change, is no time to back, and increase our reliance on, natural gas instead. Gas is better than coal, but no matter how you slice it, gas is a fossil fuel and it contributes to climate change. Renewables don’t.
Canadian Environmental Law Association David Suzuki Foundation Ecology Ottawa Environmental Defence Greenpeace Ontario Clean Air Alliance The Pembina Institute Toronto Renewable Energy Cooperative