The Liberals finally did it. They have just officially announced a massive climate change plan and it will contain draconian measures to lower the province’s carbon foot print.
The Ontario government will spend more than $7-billion over four years on a sweeping climate change plan that will affect every aspect of life – from what people drive to how they heat their homes and workplaces – in a bid to slash the province’s carbon footprint.
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, bring in building code rules requiring all new homes by 2030 to be heated with electricity or geothermal systems, and set a target for 12 per cent of all new vehicle sales to be electric by 2025.
The 57-page Climate Change Action Plan was debated by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet Wednesday and subsequently obtained by The Globe and Mail. Stamped “Cabinet Confidential,” the document lays out a strategy from 2017 to 2021. It contains about 80 different policies, grouped into 32 different “actions.” Each action has a price tag attached to it, as well as an estimate of the amount of emissions it will cut by 2020.
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. It could also require an expansion of the electricity grid. The plan promises, however, to subsidize any increased electricity costs for homeowners.
The electric vehicle targets represent a sea change for the province’s $16-billion auto sector. The 2025 goal would boost to about 86,000 the number of annual electric vehicle sales, more than 20 times the number of electric vehicles sold in the province so far this century.