Highlights From Ontario's Climate Change Action Plan
Annual Report 2007-2008
Action Plan - Ontario has laid the groundwork for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapting to climate change between now and 2050, by launching
Ontario's Climate Change Action Plan in August 2007.
Targets - Ontario's Climate Change Action Plan establishes aggressive, achievable targets for reducing GHGs by six per cent from 1990 levels by 2014, 15 per cent by
2020 and 80 per cent by 2050.
Emissions Reductions - While these targets are achievable, it should be noted that Ontario's emissions in 2006, for which the most recent data is available, are down from 2005 and 2004 levels, but still higher than 1990. The decline in emissions compared to 2005 is primarily a result of:
- Reduced use of coal-fired electricity with greater use of less carbon-intensive sources of electricity
- Reduced demand for natural gas due to the milder winter of 2006.
Change Management - In February 2008, the government established Ontario's Climate Change Secretariat to oversee and coordinate government-wide efforts to implement Ontario's Climate Change Action Plan.
Green and Clean Energy - Through renewable energy supply measures, 2,600 megawatts (MW) of new, renewable power supply has been contracted as of September 1, 2008. Of this, more than 500 MW of new renewables have come into service since October 2003 - bringing total provincial capacity to about 8,400 MW. A three-year, $9-million program was launched in September 2007 to assist funding 20 to 25 agriculture and agri-food biogas systems that convert agriculture and food-based products and by-products into renewable energy. The program's popularity led to additional funding of $2 million during the first quarter of 2008.
Green at Home - New programs and incentives are in place to encourage the use of home solar panels, to retrofit Ontario homes for energy efficiency and to encourage the use of energy efficient appliances. By September 1, 2008, more than 78,000 home energy audits and nearly 20,000 retrofits had been completed. A Retail Sales Tax exemption on eligible EnergyStar® household appliances and light bulbs is in place until August 31, 2009.
Green Ontario North - In July 2008, the government announced that Ontario will protect at least 225,000 square kilometres of the Far North Boreal region - an area one-and-a-half times the size of the Maritimes. This region is one of the last truly wild spaces on the planet and, by absorbing carbon, a globally significant carbon sink.
Green Southern Ontario - A program to plant 50 million trees in Southern Ontario by 2020 was launched in August 2007 - nearly 1.3 million have been planted so far. An additional program to plant 100,000 trees in urban areas by 2010 is also on track, with over 24,000 planted. The government has also committed $56 million over four years for the Pick Ontario Freshness Strategy, which promotes consumer awareness of Ontario-produced foods, while encouraging people to purchase them at grocery stores, farmers' markets and restaurants.
Progress on Transportation Initiatives - The government is moving forward on a number of measures including program development and funding for MoveOntario 2020, the comprehensive plan for 902 kilometres of rail and light transit for the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton. The Environmental Assessment (EA) process is being streamlined for public transit projects through a new regulation that limits the EA process to six months. Legislation has been introduced to limit the speed of large trucks to minimize emissions and work has begun to bring in a low carbon fuel standard, which would reduce these emissions by the equivalent of removing 700,000 cars from Ontario roads. We have also provided a temporary Retail Sales Tax exemption for bicycles costing $1,000 or less and bicycle helmets.
Green Economy - The Next Generation of Jobs Fund, launched in March 2008, makes $1.15 billion available to companies creating green jobs, products and services. The $625-million, four-year Ontario Research Fund also supports leading-edge research. As of September 1, 2008, $173 million has flowed through the fund for Research Infrastructure Projects to cover the capital costs of acquiring, developing, modernizing or leasing research infrastructure up to a maximum 40 per cent of the total eligible costs. In addition, $48 million for Research Excellence Projects was provided to focus on scientific excellence and strong commercialization plus target new, leading-edge research initiatives. New proposals are now being reviewed.
Adaptation - Ontario's Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation, appointed in December 2007, is providing the province with advice on how to apply policies across government that reflect the impacts of climate change that are already underway. In early 2008, Ontario hosted a summit on adaptation, bringing together more than 100 scientific, technical and policy experts from across Canada.
Working with Other Jurisdictions - The Ontario government has been working closely with others on a collaborative approach to cap and trade for GHGs. In July 2008, Ontario joined the Western Climate Initiative - a group of provinces and states working together to find regional solutions to climate change. In June 2008, Ontario signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Quebec to collaborate on a regional cap-and-trade system for GHGs. In January 2008, Ontario announced it had joined The Climate Registry, to work with other provinces and states to develop and manage a common GHG emissions reporting system. Ontario also participates as an observer in other GHG cap-and-trade initiatives and seeks opportunities for more cooperation with the federal government to curb emissions.