Sudbury·Audio

Ontario could benefit if U.S. dumps Paris agreement, says Green leader

Pulling out of the Paris climate agreement would be an economic “loser” for the U.S., said Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner, but their loss may be Ontario’s gain.

One percent of global green market worth more than auto sector, Mike Schreiner says

Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner was in Sudbury, Ont., Wednesday as part of his cross province tour. (Derek Spalding/CBC)

Pulling out of the Paris climate agreement would be an economic "loser" for the U.S., said Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner, but their loss may be Ontario's gain.

President Donald Trump recently said that the U.S. would opt out of the Paris climate agreement. Trump, who has previously called global warming a hoax, refused to endorse the landmark climate change accord at a summit of the G7 group of wealthy nations, including Canada,

But Schreiner told CBC's Up North that Ontario could pick up the pieces if the U.S. bails.

"For Ontario, it's a huge opportunity," Schreiner said. "The low-carbon economy is a $6 trillion economic opportunity."

"If we only capture one per cent of that [market,] it will be a larger contribution to Ontario's economy than the auto sector," Schreiner said.

Schreiner said the province could use its expertise in auto manufacturing to jump ahead of the pack.

"There are some suggesting combustion engines are in a death spiral," he said. "The whole auto sector is going electric. I want Ontario to build those automobiles."

A stable carbon price

The leader of the Greens also thinks that a firm carbon price would provide predictability for businesses, something they need to make long-term investments.

"Once companies know what the price on pollution is going to be, they can make the investment on low carbon technology," Schreiber said. "If the U.S. is going to flip flop, I think you're going to see businesses look for more predictable jurisdictions, like Canada and the EU."

Schreiner pointed to India's commitment to solar energy and Japan's push for hydrogen powered automobiles as two countries that are taking the changeover seriously.

"The world is going that way because it makes economic sense," Schreiner said.

'Wayne Gretzky approach' to economic development

And as Trump touts a return to coal-powered energy for the U.S., Schreiber said Ontario could learn from a former NHL-er.

"It's the Wayne Gretzky approach to economic development," he said. "[Gretzky] always skated where the puck is going, not where it's been. If the U.S. wants to go backwards, they're going to be the big losers."

Listen to the interview with Mike Schreiner here.

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