Ontario Mining Association Says Climate Change Issue Caught in Web of Complexities

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

Participants in the Ontario Mining Association´s Climate Change Workshop came to grips with the web of complexities surrounding this environmental issue.  The goal of the workshop was to provide some information on the current political and regulatory realities surrounding climate change and how they could impact mining operations in the province.  Mining companies in Ontario spend more than $500 million on energy annually and 95% of the greenhouse gas emissions from the mining sector are derived from energy use. 

Speakers at the workshop included David Clarry from the consulting engineering firm Hatch, who provided a “Climate Change 101” course and Steve Quigley, a principal with Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, who spoke about the global regulatory context and implications for Ontario´s membership in the Western Climate Initiative.  Paul Stothart, Vice president Economic Affairs at the Mining Association of Canada, provided information on the “Towards Sustainable Mining” program, while Bruce Dudley with the Delphi Group provided insights into developing corporate sustainability strategies and led a facilitated discussion on next steps for the OMA.

Over the past decade, the Mining Association of Canada has worked with the Canadian federal government on more than half a dozen greenhouse gas emission reduction plans, including “Turning the Corner.”  Although the future of the latest federal plan is uncertain, there are policy developments in Ontario that clearly need to be considered by OMA members. Along with membership in the Western Climate Initiative, Ontario has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Quebec and released five discussion papers in December regarding Cap and Trade. Participants at the session were encouraged to assist the OMA in responding to these papers and in engaging in a dialogue with the Ministry of Environment.

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The Canadian Government’s Flawed Climate Change and Clean Air Plan Avoids Economic Reality – by Paul Stothart

Paul Stothart is vice president, economic affairs of the Mining Association of Canada. He is responsible for advancing the industry’s interests regarding federal tax, trade, investment, transport and energy issues.

The climate change issue has always been unique among environmental challenges in that, more than any other issue, it is a direct byproduct of our modern lives.

Other high profile environmental issues generally have a limited set of contributors and an obvious choice of fixes. Depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer, for example, implicated emitters of chlorofluorocarbons and was addressed through technological improvements to air conditioners and refrigerators.

Acid rain was caused by pollution from a relative handful of coal-fired power plants and smelters and was addressed through introduction of technologies to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions. Local water pollution problems, such as in the Great Lakes or nearby rivers, also offer relatively easy solutions—invest in better wastewater treatment, some new storm sewers, and a few marine regulations, and the problem is on the way to resolution.

Unfortunately, climate change does not hold the promise of such an easy fix. Indeed, in one critically important respect, it resides at the opposite end of the spectrum from previous environmental challenges. Simply put, climate change is caused not by a few “bad actors” but by the everyday actions of average people.

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