Today Ontario released its climate change discussion paper and restarted a critical conversation about our province’s future.

It’s clear that climate action is needed – and it’s needed now. From ice storms that threaten to freeze us in our homes, to flooding that GO train passengers have to swim from to escape, extreme weather is hitting harder and closer to home. And it’s impacting Ontario residents, businesses, and cities.

To avoid the worst of climate catastrophes, we need to reduce carbon emissions.

In Canada, Ontario has reduced carbon pollution more than any other province. We exceeded our 2014 GHG reduction targets.

But, Ontario has a climate challenge. Without new policies, Ontario will miss its 2020 target by a wide margin. We can get back on track. With the release of the discussion paper today, Ontario has committed to doing just that.

Today, we at Environmental Defence released a primer, Ontario’s Climate Challenge: Getting back on track, which provides a potential road map for meeting, even beating, Ontario’s emissions reduction targets.

There are a lot of tools Ontario can employ to reduce carbon pollution. And, reducing carbon emissions will make us better off.

Actions to address climate change can help Ontario’s economy to thrive. As Ontario’s discussion paper states, “The new low-carbon economy will mean more and better jobs. It will avoid an environmental crisis and secure our future as a global green service and industrial economy leader.”

We don’t need to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. We can, and must, have both.

Carbon emissions in Ontario come from a variety of sectors, including industry, transportation, buildings and more. To cut emissions, there is no silver bullet. But as our primer shows, there are viable, practical actions that will cut carbon emissions, create jobs and give us a lead in the global clean economy.

With the closure of coal-fired electricity plants and the creation of the Green Energy Act, Ontario has shown past leadership on climate change. And we have reaped the rewards, with new jobs, cleaner air and an international reputation as a bold leader.

Leadership brings benefits. Ontario knows this, and Ontarians expect it of our government. Today, Ontario is showing, once more, what leadership looks like.

Over the next weeks and months, we at Environmental Defence will engage with Ontario’s climate change strategy. We’ll work with the Ontario government, citizens, and business, labour and agricultural leaders to make the most of this opportunity.  We invite you to join us in this effort.

Ontario is facing its climate challenge. We can get back on track, and doing so will help Ontario thrive in the world’s emerging clean economy.  And, it will help us create a future we can be proud of.

It’s great that a real conversation in Ontario about climate action. We look forward to seeing the actions that come out of it. Our future depends on it.