Ontario's climate change efforts and lower economic growth

The Ontario provincial government recently released its "Climate Change Discussion Paper," and – at least in some quarters – there is a discussion.

The most obvious omission from the paper is any detailed discussion regarding the negative economic impacts of greenhouse gas emission reductions.  There are approving citations of John Kerry's claims that "the new green industrial economy – a six trillion dollar economic expansion – is within reach," but no critical analyses of whether such statements are realistic.

Ontario's Liberal government has been quick to promote its GHG emission reduction efforts over the past decade, especially how it "made great strides by eliminating coal power generation in Ontario."

Indeed, a review of Environment Canada's GHG emissions by province between 2005 and 2012 (the latest year available) shows that Ontario did reduce its emissions by more than 19 percent.

But here is an interesting plot of the percent change in GHG emissions from 2005 to 2012 for the ten Canadian provinces versus their corresponding change in real GDP over this time frame:

To say this relationship is compelling, and not in favor of those who believe that GHG emission reductions won't seriously harm economic growth, is an understatement.  It is also consistent with what we see everywhere we look around the world – be it at the national or subnational scales.

Congratulations are in order to Ontario for having the largest reductions in GHG emissions from 2005 to 2012 among all Canadian provinces. Also accept our congratulations for being tied at the third lowest economic growth over this same time frame.  Think the two aren't related?  Think again.