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Ontario plans to spend $7-billion on climate plan

It's quite a sweeping plan, it has had a mixed reception in the media..."it will cost you $13/month on your utility bill"..."Energy, auto sectors raise red flags over Ontario climate plan"..."Alberta gets another poke in the eye from Ontario gas ban plan".... most articles are neutral or just make it sound dramatic but some are quite negative. Nonetheless, the 'big ticket' items of the plan are quoted below,  main article here.


The many new programs will be paid for out of revenue from the province’s upcoming cap-and-trade system, which is expected to be approved by the legislature this week and come into effect at the start of next year. Together, the cap-and-trade system and the action plan are the backbone of the province’s strategy to cut emissions to 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, 37 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050.

“We are on the cusp of a once-in-a-lifetime transformation. It’s a transformation of how we look at our planet and the impact we have on it,” reads a preamble to the plan signed by Ms. Wynne. “It’s a transformation that will forever change how we live, work, play and move.”

Highlights include:

  • $3.8-billion for new grants, rebates and other subsidies to retrofit buildings, and move them off natural gas and onto geothermal, solar power or other forms of electric heat. Many of these programs will be administered by a new Green Bank, modelled on a similar agency in New York State, to provide financing for solar and geothermal projects.
  • New building code rules that will require all homes and small buildings built in 2030 or later to be heated without using fossil fuels, such as natural gas. This will be expanded to all buildings before 2050. Other building code changes will require major renovations to include energy-efficiency measures. All homes will also have to undergo an energy-efficiency audit before they are sold.
  • $285-million for electric vehicle incentives. These include a rebate of up to $14,000 for every electric vehicle purchased; up to $1,000 to install home charging; taking the provincial portion of the HST off electric vehicle sales; an extra subsidy program for low– and moderate-income households to get older cars off the road and replace them with electric; and free overnight electricity for charging electric vehicles. The province will also build more charging stations at government buildings, including LCBO outlets, and consider making electrical vehicle plug-ins mandatory on all new buildings. The plan sets targets of expanding electric vehicle sales to 5 per cent of all vehicles sold by 2020, up to 12 per cent by 2025, and aiming to get an electric or hybrid vehicle in every multivehicle driveway by 2024, a total of about 1.7 million cars.
  • New lower-carbon fuel standards would require all liquid transportation fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, to slash life-cycle carbon emissions by 5 per cent by 2020. The plan will also provide $176-million in incentives to fuel retailers to sell more biodiesel and 85-per-cent ethanol blend. The government will also oblige natural gas to contain more renewable content, such as gas from agriculture and waste products.
  • $280-million to help school boards buy electric buses and trucking companies switch to lower-carbon trucks, including by building more liquid natural gas fuelling stations.
  • $354-million toward the GO regional rail network.
  • $200-million to build more cycling infrastructure, including curb-separated bike lanes and bike parking at GO stations.
  • $375-million for research and development into new clean technologies, including $140-million for a Global Centre for Low-Carbon Mobility at an Ontario university or college to develop electric and other low-carbon vehicle technology.
  • $1.2-billion to help factories and other industrial businesses cut emissions, such as by buying more energy-efficient machines.
  • $174-million to make the government carbon neutral. This will include retrofitting buildings, allowing some bureaucrats to work from home and buying carbon offsets.

The actions expected to cause the largest emissions cuts by 2020 are moving buildings and the electricity system off natural gas (three million tonnes); programs to make industry more energy efficient (2.5 million tonnes); the low-carbon fuel standard (two million tonnes); the renewable content requirement for natural gas (one million tonnes); and switching trucks and buses to liquefied natural gas and electricity (400,000 tonnes.)

Cutting natural gas, which currently provides 76 per cent of heating, will require mass adoption of green technologies in buildings across the province. The plan lists geothermal systems, air heat pumps and rooftop solar panels as technologies that will be eligible for rebates.


I'm a little biased but I think it's a great first step in the right direction and will need work, here's hoping it holds up and isn't stopped by opposition parties, or by companies running to lawyers with NAFTA in their hands saying certain laws harm US businesses, etc - the latter happened to a Solar Panel manufacturer in Ontario that was able to produce at a lower cost and sold to mostly European markets, the company is now longer in operation.

What are your thoughts climates? Is the proposed plan enough? Is it far behind Europe, but better than nothing? Is it innovative and ahead of the game? It seems refreshing for North America but almost standard practice in parts of Europe.

The European picture is very mixed. The UK, which had been doing quite well, has gone into reverse since the conservative government came into power, retracting subsidy for renewable energy, slowing down its progress towards parity with fossil fuel power. The Green Deal which was supposed to lead the way in retro-fitting our very old housing stock has failed. Environmental issues were virtually absent from the recent Queen's speech which lays out the programme for the next session with electric vehicles being the only inclusion. The London cycling budget is expected to be raised under the new administration with an annual spend of £164 million but with cycling burgeoning in the city this may not go far enough. Meanwhile in Yorkshire, a battle has erupted over a fracking licence.

Having been one of the best performers in Europe, the UK is now getting left behind. Across the water it's a different story with Germany reaching levels whereby they have too much renewable energy to use and Portugal having just announced that it ran on renewable energy for four days in a row.

Ontario is to be congratulated for their proposals with some ambitious goals: retrofitting buildings to get them off gas for instance, and there are lots of pitfalls such as getting the subsidy too low or too high to be effective - it'll be interesting to see how that goes. It looks like they've put a decent amount of funding behind their good range of proposals but I'm not clear on the scale of Ontario.

Great news I'd say. We need more of this.

I've certainly seen that in the UK from afar, I was impressed with all the Labour party did after I left but now it definitely seems to be going backwards on this topic. 

As for the scale of Ontario, its the most populous province in Canada,with about 13.7 million people, Quebec is second with 8.2 million, after that the provinces drop to 4 million and below. Ontario leads in a lot of ways, BC led with its Carbon tax but with a lack of other policies emissions are increasing. I really hope the program in Ontario is effective because the province tends to set the precedent for the rest of the country. It will definitely be interesting to see it unfold. 

It will also be interesting to see how the New Democrat Party (NDP) (politically left of center) will do with their changes in Alberta after 30 years of Conservatives did nothing.

It certainly seems to be making waves in the international media already. So here's hoping it works and it influences policy across Canada. 

Here we're worried about what the impact a leave victory might have on environmental policy in the UK which has already put the brakes on so severely under the current administration. We need Europe to continue to push us in the right direction. 

Ontario seems to be providing much needed leadership in Canada. You've a fantastic country there, one of the lungs of the world, and when national leadership is so often slow to get off the marks, it's good to see leadership happening at a local level that will hopefully push other provinces in the same direction. Well done Ontario! 

It seems as Ontario is taking steps forward in the fight against climate change whereas the UK is taking steps back. Our new PM wants to shut down the Department for Energy and Climate Change and our new environment secretary has questioned if climate change is real.

What's happening in the UK is certainly worrying. But the UK does a big renewable infrastructure built so it's miles ahead in that respect. 

Whilst Ontario leads, somewhat, and with stubborn opposition from celebrity-like billionaires, other provinces, like Alberta, barely have an investigative branch in their Environment department to be able to audit companies and check that industrial operations, etc meet (the pitiful and minimal) environmental laws and regulations. Then in British Columbia their once world-first and leading carbon tax is being criticised because the provincial government are not going to increase it anytime soon. Thankfully the national government disagrees and the environment minister has said carbon taxes should increase to be effective (though she avoided mentioning British Columbia), though nothing has come of a national scheme. 


So whilst some do well, there's always opposition, usually from someone with a business background or a group of companies, it's quite frustrating to sit and watch all the political BS unfold (especially with American politics reported on so often in Canada too). 

Too much politics and babysitting big business in my opinion. 

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