Ontario Announces Major Plan to Combat Climate Change

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - The provincial government of Ontario has announced that it will spend over C$7 billion over the next four years in a broad-based effort to combat climate change that is expected to touch upon nearly every aspect of life. Some of these actions are quite innovative.

Among the actions are the phasing out of the use of natural gas for heating, as well as a number of incentives for everything from electric vehicles to building energy conservation retrofits.

The Climate Change Action Plan contains 32 distinct actions containing a total of 80 policies. Each action contains a price tag and an estimated amount of carbon reduction it is expected to achieve.

Many of the actions will be paid for by the province’s cap and trade system, which is expected to be in place at the beginning of next year.

Overall, the cap and trade system and the action plan are expected to cut emissions from 1990 levels by 15 per cent by 2020, by 37 per cent by 2030 and by 80 per cent by 2050.

Perhaps most surprising is C$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. In fact, all homes built after 2030 will be required to use something other than fossil fuels for heating. The requirement will be extended to all buildings as of 2050. What’s interesting about this is that most of these buildings will be converted to use heat pumps, which have had to overcome the reputation of being best suited for warmer climates. The fact is, if they can work in Ontario, then they can work just about anywhere in the US.

Other features include rebates of up to C$14,000 for electric vehicles, plus another C$1,000 for home charging and free overnight charging. EV sales targets, as a percentage of total sales were set at 5% by 2020, rising to 12% by 2025 and a goal to get an EV or hybrid in every driveway (1.7 million cars) by 2024.

Low carbon fuel standards have been added to encourage more biodiesel and E85 gasoline blends. As more high-ethanol fuel is sold, we could see carmakers moving to engines that will run more efficiently on them. Natural gas will also require a portion of renewable gas blended in under the plan.

While natural gas is being phased out as a heating fuel, it is still being offered as a lower carbon alternative for trucks. More natural gas filling stations will be provided, along with funds for electric buses.

Funds are also being provided to improve rail service (C$354 million) and bicycling infrastructure (C$200 million). Another C$375 million will go into clean technology research, C$174 million to make the government more carbon neutral and $1.2 billion to help businesses to update their system and equipment to more efficient alternatives.

This is a significant announcement, timed to coincide with the meeting in Bonn this week, following up to the COP21 session in Paris, with the intention of moving from commitment to implementation.

Image credit: Alex Indigo: Flickr Creative Commons