Muddling the climate issue: Ontario’s auditor general misses the mark

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Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk


Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s Nov. 30th report on climate change contained significant factual errors, according to an opinion piece published in the Toronto Star on Tuesday. The discrepancies and “unbalanced analysis” paint an inaccurate picture of the province’s new climate policies, the authors say.

The report ignores all of the emission reductions from Ontario’s Climate Action Plan, write Stewart Elgie, Dave Sawyer, and Scott Vaughan. By doing so, the auditor failed to count the bulk of the emission cuts planned in Ontario.

“This fundamental error — due to misunderstanding a key study and failing to check with its author — led to an inaccurate picture of what Ontarians can expect from the province’s climate policies,” the authors write.

For example, the audit found that less than 20 percent of the emission reductions required to meet the province’s 2020 climate target will be achieved in Ontario. But this finding only counts the in-province reductions from Ontario’s new cap-and-trade system, estimated at 3.8 million tonnes (Mt). It dismisses the additional 9.8 Mt of reductions from the province’s Climate Action Plan.

The report also incorrectly cites the Environment Ministry’s own consultant (Dave Sawyer, a co-author of the opinion piece) as finding that Ontario’s cap and trade program and action plan together will yield only 3.8 Mt of provincial reductions. Sawyer points out that his analysis focused on reductions from the cap-and-trade system only, and didn’t include the Action Plan.

“This error cascades through the report, and undermines a second major audit finding that small emissions reductions are expected to come at a high cost to Ontario businesses and households.”

See the full article in the Toronto Star.