With concerns about climate change and global warming, governments have begun looking to set environmental standards to tackle this growing problem. In most cases, these governments have set up policies and targets to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, the province of Ontario is taking things a bit further.

On May 18, 2016, the government of Ontario passed the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act.  This act outlines Ontario’s plan to tackle climate change and lower emissions significantly by the middle of the century.

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What is Ontario doing?

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The province’s move to a green economy and infrastructure has been ten years in the making.  2005 marked the beginning of this transition with the introduction of the Greenbelt, a two million acre stretch of land that is protected by law from further development.

Four years later, the Ontario government began expanding their GO transit service and passed the Clean Energy Act (2009), beginning the province’s move away from fossil fuels.  This continued with the closure of coal power plants, removing the equivalent of seven million cars off the road when the last plant closed in 2014.

In 2015, the province announced their plan to introduce a cap and trade program to meet both short and long-term targets and even signed a partnership with the province of Quebec to link both programs.  The Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act will help the Ontario government in achieving their emission goals by putting their strategy into law and setting up programs so the transition is smoother for Ontarians and industry.

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What is the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act?

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The Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act sets out Ontario’s plan to dramatically reduce Greenhouse emissions by 2050.  The act cements targets for the province at 15% below 1990 by 2020, 37% below 1990 by 2030, and 80% below 1990 by 2050.  These targets will be achieved through different policies set out in the government’s various action plans, which will be introduced over time.  These programs will include:

  • $3.8 billion in new grants and rebates to promote buildings to move from natural gas to electric heating and reforming building codes so that building will be heated without fossil fuels
  • promoting the use of electric cars with more charging stations being added
  • $280 million in upgrading the GO rail network
  • $200 million in building more cycling infrastructure
  • $1.2 million to make factories more energy efficient

These programs will help in cutting the amount of Greenhouse gas emissions by making the province independent of the use of fossil fuels in the province’s economy, energy, and society.

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What does this mean?

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By introducing the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act, Ontario is setting the standard for moving forward on climate change policy.  It takes the goals and targets that Ontario wants to achieve and puts them into law so that they become the set standards Ontario wants for their environmental policies while setting up the province’s economy in a way that is both sustainable and benefits the people of Ontario.

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Sources:

Brooks, Keith. “Big news: Ontario has a new law to fight climate change.” Environmental Defense. May 18, 2016. http://environmentaldefence.ca/2016/05/18/big-news-ontario-new-law-fight-climate-change/. Accessed May 19, 2016.

Keenan, Greg and Adrian Morrow. “Ontario to spend $7-billion on sweeping climate change plan.” Globe and Mail.  May 16, 2016. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario-to-spend-7-billion-in-sweeping-climate-change-plan/article30029081/. Accessed May 20, 2016.

Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. “Ontario Passes Landmark Climate Change Legislation.” Government of Ontario. May 18, 2016. https://news.ontario.ca/ene/en/2016/05/ontario-passes-landmark-climate-change-legislation.html. Accessed May 19, 2016.

Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. “Climate Change.” Government of Ontario. https://www.ontario.ca/page/climate-change. Accessed May 20, 2016.

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