Ontario warned to do more on greenhouse gas...
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Jul 07, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Ontario warned to do more on greenhouse gas targets

Ontario not meeting greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, warns Ellen Schwartzel, acting Environmental Commissioner

OurWindsor.Ca

It will take action not words in order for Ontario to meet its greenhouse gas emission targets, warns Ellen Schwartzel, acting Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.

Schwartzel said Tuesday that Ontario has only five years to meet its 2020 target and, given the Liberal government’s current initiatives, it’s not going to happen unless the province “buckles down” and cuts those gases responsible for global warming.

Her critical report comes as the province is playing host this week to the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto.

“Unless the government takes more aggressive action, particularly in the transportation and building sectors, it will not be able to meet its target to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 19 megatonnes by 2020,” she said, adding that’s roughly equivalent to the reductions achieved when the province’s coal-fired plants were closed.

“It is only five years away and projections indicate the province has a sizable gap to fill.”

Critics said the environmental commissioner’s annual progress report entitled, “Feeling the Heat” is like watching the movie Groundhog Day.

“I have seen this movie a number of times . . . this government has consistently avoided meeting it 2020 targets,” said NDP environment, climate change and energy critic MPP Peter Tabuns.

Despite the report, Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray said the target will be reached.

“That’s why we’re introducing a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions, make air cleaner, water safer, and grow the economy, creating jobs and boosting innovation — part of our all-of-government climate change strategy which will be released later this year,” he said in a statement.

But Schwartzel said cap-and-trade will likely focus on large industrial users and come nowhere near meeting the overall need to reduce greenhouse gases.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said all the “hot air” coming out of Queen’s Park is not helping matters.

“This report is like Groundhog Day. We’ve now have had two Environmental Commissioners warn us that the government is failing to meet Ontario’s 2020 GHG pollution targets,” Schreiner said.

The report does praise Ontario’s “ambitious” targets for reducing emissions, noting they are in line with those of other jurisdictions.

“Now it has to do the hard part and deliver on the commitment,” Schwartzel said.

The report singles out the transportation sector as the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario. And it suggests the government can no longer simply dine out on its decision to close the coal-fired power plants, which allowed it to meet it 2014 targets.

Schwartzel and critics alike said the government could go a long way to meeting the goal by making it easier for electric car owners to recharge their vehicles, by pushing ahead with transit plans, including electrifying trains and retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient.

“In a world of rapidly melting Arctic sea ice there is a real urgency to reducing emissions now,” she said.

Toronto Star

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