2015 Climate Change Strategy – November, 2015
Ontario has updated its climate strategy, and shifted the mainstay initiative from closing coal plants (which it has successfully completed) to joining Quebec in a cap and trade plan.
The proposed cap and trade program will help Ontario meet its emissions reduction targets, reward innovative companies and ensure that households and businesses thrive as the province transitions to a low-carbon economy.
Ontario’s Climate Change Strategy outlines the steps the government will take, including:
- Introducing climate legislation that, if passed, would establish a long-term framework for action and make the cap and trade program law in Ontario.
- Integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation considerations into government decision-making and infrastructure planning.
- Introducing changes to government operations, procurement, employee training, building retrofits and in other areas to help government move towards carbon neutrality.
- Developing a coordinated approach to reduce emissions from new and existing buildings.
- Reducing emissions from transportation by promoting the uptake of zero emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
The government will also release a detailed five-year action plan in 2016, which will include specific commitments to meet near-term 2020 emissions reduction targets, and establish the framework necessary to meet targets for 2030 and 2050. The government will report on, and renew, its action plan every five years.
The Ontario Climate Change Strategy builds on Ontario’s prior work in the fight against climate change, including setting a 2030 mid-term target for greenhouse gas pollution reduction (37 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030), hosting the Climate Summit of the Americas in July 2015, working with industry and other partners on the design of a cap and trade program, ending coal-fired electricity generation, and electrifying and improving Ontario’s commuter rail network.
- The Ministry of the Environment publishes progress reports on the climate plan. The 2008/09 and 2009/2010 reports are no longer available on the website, but the most recent 2012 report is available.
- The Environmental Commissioner has been charged with producing an annual climate change report (including a review of the Ministry reports). The reports can be found on the ECO website.
Ontario’s 2007 Climate Action Plan
In 2007, Ontario launched “Go Green: Ontario’s Climate Action Plan”, with a promise to cut carbon emissions to:
- 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2014 – a reduction of 61 megatonnes relative to business-as-usual
- 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 – a reduction of 99 megatonnes relative to business-as-usual
- 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050
A second and more recent strategy dealing with climate adaptation was released in 2011. Climate Ready acknowledges that climate change will have significant effects on Ontario’s weather, ecosystems, and economy. contains recommendations with respect to planning and infrastructure investments.
Ontario’s Green Energy Act (2009) was created to expand renewable energy generation, encourage energy conservation and promote the creation of clean energy jobs. The two main elements of the plan are:
- energy conservation targets for the province’s local utilities