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December 10, 2015: Provincial Report; Ontario Taking Action on Climate Change.

December 10, 2015: Provincial Report;
Ontario Taking Action on Climate Change.

By Yasir Naqvi, MPP Ottawa-Centre.

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and I am proud of Ontario’s leadership in this fight. We simply cannot afford the cost of inaction; our future depends on the decisions we make today.

Last year, Ontario closed its last coal-fired power plant, and now we have passed a law to ensure coal-fired electricity in Ontario is over for good – a first in North America and a significant step in the fight against climate change. The Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act prevents new and existing facilities from burning coal for the sole purpose of generating electricity. It sets maximum fines for anyone who violates the ban and enshrines the health and environmental benefits of making coal-fired electricity illegal in law.

Closing coal-fired power plants represents one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in North America, equivalent to taking seven million cars off our roads. You can even see it in our air – closing coal has helped reduce the number of smog days in Ontario from 53 in 2005 to zero in 2015!

But there is more to do. Ontario’s new Climate Change Strategy lays out the government’s vision for securing a healthy, clean and prosperous low-carbon future by transforming the way we live, move, work and adapt to our environment. The strategy also supports Ontario’s proposed cap and trade program, which will help Ontario meet its emissions reduction targets, reward innovative companies and ensure that households and businesses thrive as the province transitions to a low-carbon economy.

Ontario’s Climate Change Strategy outlines the following steps the government will take:

  • Introducing climate legislation that, if passed, would establish a long-term framework for action and make the cap and trade program law in Ontario.
  • Integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation considerations into government decision-making and infrastructure planning.
  • Introducing changes to government operations, procurement, employee training, building retrofits and in other areas to help government move towards carbon neutrality.
  • Developing a coordinated approach to reduce emissions from new and existing buildings.
    Reducing emissions from transportation by promoting the uptake of zero emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
  • The government will also release a detailed five-year action plan in 2016, which will include specific commitments to meet near-term 2020 emissions reduction targets, and establish the framework necessary to meet targets for 2030 and 2050. The government will report on, and renew, its action plan every five years.

Ontario’s broad approach to fighting climate change is working. Based on the most current data, Ontario has exceeded its 2014 greenhouse gas reduction target. We are also well past the half-way point to meeting our 2020 target of 15 per cent below 1990 levels. This is the leadership Premier Kathleen Wynne brought to the COP21 conference in Paris. There, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and our new MP and Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, they worked to build on Ontario’s momentum and success.

Greenhouse gas emissions do not recognize borders, so climate change cannot be fought by individual governments. Only through our continued pan-Canadian and global cooperation can we succeed in building a sustainable and prosperous world for future generations.

To learn more about how cap and trade works or to read Ontario’s Climate Change Strategy, please visit Ontario.ca/climate change. As always, please feel free to contact me via email at ynaqvi.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org or call at 613-722-6414 .

Yasir Naqvi, MPP,
Ottawa-Centre.

Bar chart for 2003 to 2013, with generally lower values starting 2009, 2012 being higher than average

‘Smog’ Days.

Photo Caption: Ontario’s Climate Change Strategy intends to combat increasing numbers of. Chart courtesy of Government of Ontario

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