Exploring the Grotto at Bruce Peninsula National Park, a sea cave carved out of the Niagara Escarpment:
According to Ontario's Environmental Commissioner, climate change will have enormous impacts on Ontario’s natural environment. Increased air and water temperatures, along with changes to rain and snow patterns, will reshape the ecology of the province with "profound repercussions on our communities and economy... Climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation must be considered a two-pronged and interrelated approach to how the Ontario government plans and manages our land and water, fish and wildlife, and communities and economy."
Ontario's Aboriginal Communities: Key Dialogue Partners for Developing Cap and Trade
Climate change adds to the many challenges for sustaining healthy biodiversity in Ontario. Habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, and invasive alien species threaten Ontario's native species and ecosystems, and climate change compounds these existing problems. For Aboriginal communities across Ontario, climate change presents profound impacts to livelihoods, ways of life and future generations. And, as primary ecosystem stewards, Aboriginal communities are on the front lines of fighting climate change.
As Ontario moves forward with plans for Ontario climate action that include a Cap and Trade mechanism, Ontario's Aboriginal communities will be key dialogue partners. As Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission notes, Ontario Cap and Trade can work effectively to meaningfully and cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but only if government gets the details of policy right. Ontario has made important commitments to fighting climate change and is demonstrating strong leadership across the Americas (e.g. the Climate Change Summit of the Americas with speakers including Al Gore, California Governor Jerry Brown, Dr. Dean Jacobs, and Felipe Calderón), with other sub-national governments (notably California and Quebec), and with a long-term and short-term goals to combat climate change at home.
We've previously written about how Canada's First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples are key to climate change action. and the critical importance of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in the face of climate change. We've also written about Premier Kathleen Wynne's commitments for Ontario climate change action and her mandates to her Ministers around Aboriginal community well-being. We understand that Ontario is both very serious about combatting climate change and serious about making sure that Aboriginal communities share in the benefits of natural resources, are engaged in natural resource management, engaged in resource-related economic development, engaged in the energy sector, and engaged in dialogue with Ontario for revitalized treaty relationships that help promote improved socio-economic outcomes.
Combating climate change in Ontario will most likely involve collaborative climate change action with many players. Dialogue will translate into various agreements, including ecosystem based management or stewardship agreements: all built with meaningful dialogue with Aboriginal communities to meet Ontario's long-term and short-term goals. Ontario makes it clear in its Climate Change Discussion Paper that it plans to "engage First Nations and Métis communities across Ontario in a focused conversation to work together to address climate impacts and climate change."