Greenhouse gases that cause climate change are a threat to the health of Ontarians, the environment and the sustainability of the economy. To address this serious problem, Ontario introduced its Climate Change Action Plan in 2007. The Plan includes the following greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets:
- 6% below 1990 levels by 2014,
- 15% below 1990 levels by 2020, and
- 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
It is estimated that current initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will deliver 60% of the reductions needed to reach the 2020 reduction target. A greenhouse gas emissions reduction program alone will not close the gap but is an important step in that direction.
In 2011, the federal government started discussions on regulating greenhouse gases from the oil and gas sector and released a draft regulation for coal-fired electricity generation. In 2012, the federal government broadened discussions on regulating greenhouse gases to include the cement, iron and steel, chemical, fertilizer, pulp and paper sectors and released a final regulation for coal-fired electricity generation.
Other North American jurisdictions are also taking action to address emissions of greenhouse gases. In Canada, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia all have or are developing regulations to reduce greenhouse gases. In the USA, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative limits emissions from electricity generation in north-eastern states, while California has introduced a broad greenhouse gas emissions trading regime with an intention of linking to Quebec’s program.
After two years of collecting emissions data from industry, the Ministry of the Environment would like to engage the public in the development of a greenhouse gas emissions reduction program. The goal of the program will be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while supporting the province’s economic goals.