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.
The paper will be used to support discussions and elicit input on the development of a greenhouse gas emissions reduction program. These discussions are intended to be broad-based and transparent and the feedback received will inform the design of the program. In addition, these discussions will elicit information to support Ontario’s intention to obtain equivalency with the developing federal greenhouse gas regulations so Ontario industries are not subject to duplicate requirements.
Format of the Discussions
The ministry has been engaged in sector-specific discussions to: explore and confirm background information; identify reduction opportunities and barriers; evaluate compliance mechanisms; and identify potential impacts and possible means to mitigate them. The province is also interested in the perspectives of other interested parties who can submit comments to the ministry through the Environmental Registry on any aspect of the program.
The ministry recommends the program be in place one year prior to federal regulations, which are expected to begin in 2016. Discussions will occur on a timeline that supports this objective, with the majority of the discussions expected to occur in 2013. This will allow time for Ontario to consider feedback and develop a program that works for industry and helps to achieve the province’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. This will also provide enough time to finalize an equivalency agreement with the federal government.
This proposal was posted for a 90 day public review and comment period starting January 21, 2013. Comments were to be received by April 21, 2013.
All comments received during the comment period are being considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry.
Please Note: All comments and submissions received have become part of the public record.