The province of Ontario is poised to announce an aggressive new approach to lower its carbon footprint and impact climate change. The plan, which will be officially unveiled next month, calls for reductions in carbon emissions to 15% below 1990 levels by 2020, 37% by 2030, and 80% 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 Premier Kathleen Wynne. “It’s a transformation that will forever change how we live, work, play and move.”
A copy of the plan leaked to The Globe and Mail outlines 80 different policies, grouped into 32 different “actions.” Each action has a price tag attached to it, as well as an estimate of the how much each action will reduce emissions by 2020. In other words, it is a document that recognizes the urgency of the challenge presented by climate change and proposes thoughtful ways to meet that challenge.
This is a dramatically different approach than the one adopted by the US Congress. In that august body, the majority of members are climate change deniers bought and paid for by the Koch Brothers and their various minions. In fact, 60% of Americans are represented at the national level by climate change deniers according to ThinkProgress.
The Ontario plan proposes dramatic reductions in the use of natural gas (much of which is obtained by fracking). The Globe and Mail reports that Ontario will begin phasing out natural gas for heating, provide incentives to retrofit buildings and give rebates to drivers who buy electric vehicles. It will also require that gasoline sold in the province contain less carbon. New building code provisions will mandate all new homes be heated with electricity or geothermal systems by 2030. It also seeks to increase the sale of electric vehicles to 12% of the total by 2025.
The plan will require the provincial government to send about $7 billion over the next 4 years. Most of that money is expected to come from a new cap and trade system for carbon emissions that will go into effect later this year. Many of the programs will be administered by a Green Bank. Modeled on a similar agency in New York State, it will provide financing for solar and geothermal projects.
The plan is not without its detractors. The new rules are expected to cause significant changes in the automotive and energy markets in Ontario. The electric vehicle targets represent a major change for the province’s automotive economy, which is valued at $16 billion. To reach the 2025 goal, about 86,000 electric cars will need to be sold in the province by 2025. That is more than 20 times the number sold so far this century.
Natural gas currently provides 76% of heating for homes and commercial buildings. The proposed cuts will require mass adoption of green technologies like geothermal systems, heat pumps, and rooftop solar installations.
The Ontario plan will require hard choices and bold action, two things that politicians in the Lower 48 are simply incapable of. They continue to hide their heads in the sand and pray the whole climate change issue will just somehow go away. As always, if the people will lead, their leaders will follow.
Find out where the candidates stand on issues that are important to you and then vote your conscience in November. The best way to repeal Citizens United is to show the people spending all that money to buy your vote that you are not for sale.