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Government of Ontario Releases its Climate Change Action Plan

June 8, 2016   (0 Comments)
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Today, the Ontario government released the much anticipated Five-Year Climate Change Action Plan at an announcement that included Premier Wynne, Minister Murray, Minister Chiarelli, Minister Del Duca, and Minister Duguid.  It is a comprehensive approach to help business and individuals transition to a low-carbon economy.  The Plan outlines specific programs and initiatives that could total $8.3B over five years, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 9.8M tonnes by 2020.


The development of a Five-Year Action Plan is a component of the recently-passed Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act; it is meant to outline how the government intends to achieve Ontario’s greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020 and 2030. These targets are as follows:

  • 2020: A GHG emissions reduction of 15% below 1990 levels  - a reduction of 19 megatonnes.
  • 2030: A GHG emissions reduction of 37% below 1990 levels – an additional reduction of 62 megatonnes.

The programs and initiatives outlined in the Action Plan are to be funded through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account (GGRA), which will hold the proceeds generated through the Ontario Cap and Trade Program. The Cap and Trade Program will commence in January 2017. The Act also stipulates that spending of the GGRA must go towards initiatives that are intended to reduce or support the reduction of GHGs.


Some initiatives have already been announced as part of the $325M Green Investment Fund (GIF), which was essentially a down payment on proceeds from the cap and trade program.


The programs and initiatives are categorized in the following eight Action Areas:

1. Transportation

5.Collaboration with Indigenous Communities

2. Buildings and Homes

6. Research and Development

3. Land-Use Planning

7. Government

4. Industry and Business

8. Agriculture, Forests and Lands


To assist in technology deployment a low-carbon service provider and financing entity called the Green Bank will be created.  The Green Bank will be utilized “to deploy and finance readily available low-carbon energy technologies to reduce carbon pollution from Ontario buildings.”  The Green Bank will be based on two existing best practice models: Efficiency Vermont and the New York Green Bank. 


It will assist in helping households and businesses understand what government grants and incentives are available; assist in securing households with flexible low-interest financing for GHG reducing improvements; and support large commercial and industrial projects.


A summary of Action Areas featured in the Plan with anticipated funding allocation over the 5-year period is below.  The Plan also features projected start dates (by year), as well as some estimated GHG reduction estimates by program.


Action Area: Transportation

GGRA Funding over 4 years

Increase the availability and use of lower-carbon fuel

  • Ontario to set a Renewable Fuels Standard
  • Assist fuel distributors provide high-blend sustainable biofuels and infrastructure upgrades
  • Pilot waste and agricultural methane as a fuel source

$115-$175 M

Increase the use of electric vehicles

  • Extend rebate program for leasing or buying electric vehicles; including rebate for installation of home charging station
  • Eliminate HST on Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs)
  • Free overnight electric charging for residential and multi-unit customers
  • “Cash for clunkers” program to get older vehicles off the road
  • Increase availability of charging infrastructure
  • All new homes and commercial properties will have to be electric-vehicle-ready with built-in charging infrastructure

$246-$277 M

Support cycling and walking

  • Implement Ontario’s Cycling Strategy and Action Plan
  • Establish commuter cycling networks across Ontario; revise provincial road/highway standards to require commuter cycling infrastructure be considered for all road/highway construction projects where safe and feasible
  • More cycling facilities in urban areas, and more bike parking at transit stations

$150-$225 M

Increase the use of Low-carbon trucks and buses

  • Green Commercial Vehicle Program
  • Build a network of low-emission fuelling stations
  • Improve competitiveness of short-line railways

$215-290 M

Support the accelerated construction of GO Regional Express rail

  • Province to work to accelerate deployment of the Regional Express Rail system

$355-$675 M

Action Area: Buildings and Homes

GGRA Funding over 4 years

Improve energy efficiency in multi-tenant residential buildings

  • Retrofit social housing apartments
  • Provide incentives for apartment building retrofits

$680-$900 M

Improve energy efficiency in schools and hospitals

  • Funding to be provided to help schools, hospitals, universities and colleges retrofit buildings

$400-$800 M

Reduce emissions from heritage buildings

$40-$80 M

Help homeowners reduce their carbon footprint by supporting additional choice

  • Help Ontarians purchase and install low-carbon energy technologies in their homes
  • New program to help retire older wood stoves
  • Near Net Zero Carbon Home Incentive rebate program

$681-$824 M

Set lower-carbon standards for new buildings

  • Update the Building Code with long-term energy efficiency targets for new net zero carbon emission small buildings that will come into effect by 2030


Promote low-carbon energy supply and products

  • Introduce new renewable content requirement for natural gas

$60-$100 M

Help individuals and businesses manage their energy use and save money

  • Introduce Home Energy Rating & Disclosure (HERD) program and provide free energy audits for pre-sale homes

$200-$250 M

Training, workforce and technical capacity

  • New training programs to ensure building sector has skilled workers; Support post-secondary training and innovations

$45-70 M

Action Area: Land-use Planning

GGRA Funding over 4 years

Strengthen climate change policies in the municipal land-use planning process

  • Proposed amendments to the Municipal Act and City of Toronto Act
  • EV charging stations in surface parking lots
  • Set green development standards
  • Proposed amendments to Ontario’s Planning Act to better account for climate change in planning; put climate change mitigation in municipal official plans
  • Eliminate minimum parking requirements


Support municipal and other stakeholder climate action

  • Establish GHG reduction challenge fund or program
  • Fund the development of Community Energy Plans and Climate Action Plans for municipalities, First Nations and Métis communities currently lacking these plans

$270-$325 M

Reduce congestion and improve economic productivity

  • Help municipalities pilot congestion management plans and implement Transportation Demand Management Plans

$10-$20 M

Action Area: Industry and Business

GGRA Funding over 4 years

Help industries adopt low-carbon technologies

  • Government to help businesses increase their use of low-carbon technologies – programs and services facilitated by the green bank

$875M - $1.1 B

Help the agri-food sector adopt low-carbon technologies

  • Help Ontario food and beverage processing sector expand use of innovative technologies and reduce GHGs
  • Retrofit agricultural facilities

$50-$115 M

Action Area: Collaboration with Indigenous Communities

GGRA Funding over 4 years

Collaborate with Indigenous communities

  • Transition to non-fossil fuel energy and connect remote communities to provincial electricity grid
  • Establish fund for community-level GHG reduction projects
  •  Low-carbon jobs and training partnerships

$85-$96 M

Action Area: Research and Development

GGRA Funding over 4 years

Support innovation and commercialization of new low-carbon technologies

  • Encourage growth of Ontario’s clean-tech sector by supporting research in low-carbon technologies

$140-$235 M

Set tax and regulatory policies that encourage innovations

  • Explore opportunities to create R&D tax credits
  • Work with federal government to explore possible opportunities for accelerated capital cost allowance or technologies that reduce GHGs

$0-$1 M

Support research and development through a Global Centre for Low-Carbon Mobility

  • In collaboration with a post-secondary institution – Centre will advise government on low-carbon transportation, and to direct funding for research and manufacturing

$100-$140 M

Action Area: Government

GGRA Funding over 4 years

Reduce emissions and energy costs across government

  • Reduce government building emissions via retrofits
  • Increase reduction target to 50% below 2006 levels by 2030; move all government operations towards carbon neutrality
  • Provide more opportunities for OPS staff telecommuting
  • Green-up government vehicles
  • Public properties and buildings will be used to help demonstrate low-carbon technologies and show-case Ontario innovations
  • Ensure low-carbon procurement
  • Reform fossil fuel policies

$165-$175 M

Action Area: Agriculture, Forests and Lands

GGRA Funding over 4 years

Reduce emissions from waste and move Ontario towards a circular economy

  • Implement Waste-Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy strategy

$20-$30 M

Increase our understanding of how agricultural and natural lands emit and store carbon

  • Develop a Land-Use Carbon Inventory
  • Develop a Forest Carbon Policy Framework

$2-$3 M

Maximize carbon storage from agriculture

  • Develop and implement an Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy

$30 M

Understand and enhance carbon storage in natural systems

  • Expand Ontario’s Greenbelt to enable carbon sequestration potential of area to be maintained
  • Develop and implement Ontario Grasslands Stewardship Initiative
  • Support the Far North Land Use Strategy
  • Plant 50 million trees by 2025

$500,000 - $1.5 M

Update Environmental Assessment to Account for Climate Change

  • The province has prepared a draft guide – Consideration of Climate Change in Environmental Assessment in Ontario



Other actions already undertaken by the government and not included in the Action Plan:


Increase the use of electric vehicles – charging stations in government locations

$500,000 - $2 M

Electric vehicle educational campaigns

$10-$20 M

Electric school buses – pilot project in five communities


Create OPS Climate Change Information Centre

$1-$2 M

Climate Change Training for all OPS employees on matters related to their work

$250,000 - $1 M

Finalize a Wetlands Conservation Strategy for Ontario

$500,000 - $1 M


The 85-page document is significant, as it underscores the commitment that the Government of Ontario is making to reducing its GHG emissions, and achieving its legislated targets. That said, it is clear that many more details will need to be articulated as the government develops these programs and initiatives over the five-year period. 


All information above has been provided by Sussex Strategy Group Inc.

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