Time to act!

The time has come to face climate change head-on, invest in practical solutions, and reap the environmental and economic benefits. Premier Wynne made this message clear when she revealed Ontario’s new Climate Change Action Plan on Wednesday. Responding to reporters who questioned why Ontario should foot the bill for climate change, she reinforced that the cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of investing in solutions now.

Follow the carbon

This is the first time I’ve seen the Province really follow the carbon and target the most significant GHG emissions in a meaningful way. This plan lays a foundation for deep reductions from Ontario’s buildings, transportation system and industries.

The government is committing to consulting industry and businesses as it develops and rolls out the programs and policies over the next five years. The key action areas are related to:

  • Transportation – Increasing the use and availability of lower carbon fuels, providing incentives for electric vehicles (EVs), installing more EV charging stations, investing in GO Regional Express Rail and active transportation infrastructure
  • Buildings – Bolder energy conservation programs; low-interest financing for energy efficiency, clean energy and storage, retrofits for social housing and apartments, and stricter building codes for new construction.
  • Land Use – Making climate change an official part of any land use plan, empowering municipalities to set green development standards, eliminate minimum parking, and require EV charging in new buildings and places of work, and funding for low-carbon initiatives.
  • Industry & Business – Reward innovation, create investment opportunities, reinvest cap & trade revenues to bolster industry competitiveness, offset cost of implementing low-carbon technologies and R&D, provide transitional allowances.

 

Will this plan meet climate targets?

The plan models approximately 10 megatonnes of GHG reductions by 2020. This is about half of the reductions needed to bridge the 19 megatonne gap left to meet the 2020 target. Based on TAF’s quantification, the reduction potential for retrofitting multi-unit residential buildings could be much higher, and the plan does not quantify a whole area of measures of “actions not featured in the plan.” Without the timelines or details of each program, it is not clear how and when the various initiatives would achieve their intended outcomes.

What are others saying?

Environmentalists, industry, businesses, and the media are providing mostly praise for the plan. For summaries and commentary from various industry representatives, check out:

Clean Economy Alliance – Coalition of over 90 groups welcomes the release of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan

Environmental Defence – OCCAP paves the way to a low-carbon future

Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance – Ontario’s Climate Action Plan takes bold steps with help for consumers to become more energy efficient

Canadian Solar Industry Association – Strong focus on solar in Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan

Pembina Institute – Pembina reacts to Ontario’s climate change action plan

Ontario Trucking Association – OTA applauds Ontario’s new Climate Change Action Plan

 

  • Photo credit: Toronto Star