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Ontario quietly revises plan to reach climate change targets

Ontario quietly revises plan to reach climate change targets

Ontario quietly revises its plan for hitting climate change targets

Premier Doug Ford’s government quietly changed its plan to meet Ontario’s 2030 carbon emission reduction targets.  

The government has a new forecast for the province’s greenhouse-gas emissions website shows some significant departures from the reductions earmarked in the “Made in Ontario Plan for the Environment” in 2018.

The new plan does not include any reductions from greater uptake of electric vehicles, which accounted for nearly 15 per cent of the projected cuts to CO2 emissions in the government’s 2018 plan

Also missing from the new forecast: any mention of the Ontario Carbon Trust, which the government Previously, it was a source of significant emissions reductions. It was announced in 2018 as a $400-million fund to help the private sector develop clean technologies, but never materialized. 

Natural gas conservation forecast in the 2018 plan to bring about a 2.3 megatonnes (MT) reduction of CO2 emissions has been shrunk to almost nothing in the new plan: 0.03 MT      

Although the Ford government announced its 2018 environment plan with a splash, there was no news release about its new emissions forecast. CBC News asked Environment Minister David Piccini for an interview in the days leading up to the Easter long weekend, but he was not available.

This is the Ford government’s new forecast on how it plans to reduce Ontario’s greenhouse gases emissions by 2030. (Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks).

Despite the revisions, the new forecast still shows Ontario achieving a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030.

The new document says that the province “remains steadfastly committed to meeting the 2030 emission reduction target and is confident about the plan and trajectory to get there.” 

The revised forecast noted that Ontario has already achieved “greater greenhouse gas emission reductions than any other province or territory in Canada.” 

Those reductions came about almost entirely through initiatives from previous Liberal governments — most notably ending Ontario’s use of coal-fired electricity generation. By the time the Ford government came to power in 2018, the province was already two-thirds of the way toward meeting that 2030 target. 

The pandemic could be a help to the government. Ontario’s 2020 emissions showed the sharpest year-to-year drop since the 2008-09 recession kneecapped the manufacturing industry: According to federal figures released this week, 16 MT are lower than 2019This is largely due to fewer commuters and fewer travellers flying.   

According to Ontario’s latest forecast, it will achieve its 2030 goal by reducing emissions by 12 Mt from current levels.

These reductions would primarily come from three sources: 

  • Greater percentage of gasoline made from renewable sources.
  • For heavy industry, stricter emissions standards 
  • The steel industry plans to move away from coal-fired furnaces.

Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada, says the vast bulk of the province’s planned emission reductions are being driven either by federal regulations or by programs that Ottawa is helping pay for.  

Stewart said that the Ford government is essentially relying on actions taken by the Ontario governments, as well as current actions being taken in federal government.

“Ontario seems like it is saying, “We will do whatever federal government makes us do or pays.” Stewart stated that this is not enough to deal with a climate crisis. 

Ottawa’s clean fuels mandate requires gasoline and diesel suppliers to reduce the carbon intensity of fuel. Ontario is helping to achieve this in large part through raising the gasoline’s minimum ethanol content to 15%. 

According to the figures provided by the Environment Ministry to CBC News, “green steel” transitionThe federal and provincial governments partially funded the project, which is expected to result in a 5.1 MT reduction in emissions. Meanwhile, the gasoline renewable content and heavy industrial standards combined would lead to a 5.35MT reduction. The ministry didn’t provide any breakdown between these two initiatives.

This graphic shows the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that the Ford government predicted back in 2018, in its Plan for the Environment. (Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks).

Emissions reductions are much smaller when there is less food waste that is dumped in landfills (0.97 Mt), greater transit (0.58 Mt) and conservation of natural gases (0.03MT).  

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Piccini’s press Secretary Phillip Robinson told CBC News in an email that Piccini’s government’s plan was working. 

Robinson wrote, “This has been done while making sure that our approach is flexible and adaptable to the opportunities, needs and circumstances facing job creates and not harmful for Ontario’s economic growth.” 

Stewart claims that the three-page document outlining Ontario’s new plan to reduce its emissions doesn’t mention climate change. 

He said that this plan is not about addressing the climate crisis but meeting federal requirements.  

Last month, the Trudeau government revealed a plan for a Canada has seen a 40% drop in its carbon emissionsFrom the 2005 benchmark. Ontario will continue to adhere to the 30% target that Canada has committed to under the legally binding agreement. Paris Agreement in 2016.  

Dianne Saxe, the Green Party of Ontario’s deputy leader, says the government’s forecast has no credibility.

Saxe stated in a news release that “it hides even more details then the groundless numbers from the last Ford forecast.” 

She added that Doug Ford was doing nothing to address the climate emergency. 

“To do nothing on our greatest issue is an insult to our future generations and our children.”

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