Facing Climate Change: ECO’s 2016 Greenhouse Gas Progress Report

Today we released our annual Greenhouse Gas Progress Report 2016 (download the report here).Cover of Facing Climate Change, the Environmental Commissioner's 2016 Annual Greenhouse Gas Progress Report

So much has happened in Ontario on climate change policy over the past year.  The Ontario government met its 2014 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target (6% below 1990 levels) ‒ in large part due to the closure of its coal-fired power plants. To tackle more daunting targets still ahead, the government has introduced a climate change action plan that lays out many steps, including introducing a cap and trade program for pricing carbon. These are no small feats.

Our latest report goes in-depth into the science of climate change, and what it means for Ontario (see Chapter 1). It also looks at where Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions come from (see Chapter 2), focusing on the reported numbers from the federal government. The report then examines areas where the reported numbers may underrepresent Ontario’s true emissions, and highlights other ways to slice and dice Ontario’s true carbon footprint (see Chapter 3). Ontarians contribute more to climate change than they probably realize.

Our office is very pleased that the government finally put a price on carbon, which is an important market signal for households and industry to use less of the fossil fuels that add carbon pollution to the atmosphere. An appendix to our report provides a handy guide for those who want to learn more about how a cap and trade program works (see Appendix A).

The report also explores some of the potential pitfalls the government may face when implementing the cap and trade program, and possible solutions (see Chapter 4). It looks at how the government should spend the cap and trade money, and the level of transparency and oversight that we expect (see Chapter 5). It also examines some of the key initiatives the government announced in its Climate Change Action Plan and whether or not the government can deliver the scale of emission reductions that it is claiming (see Chapter 6).

There is no doubt that making a dent in Ontario’s GHG emissions from here on in will be challenging. Among other things, it will require people driving less or getting out of their cars altogether, large-scale energy efficiency retrofitting of all kinds of buildings, and industries reimagining how they operate. We all have to do our part (see Chapter 7). The government has made a reasonable effort at laying the groundwork for getting there.

Now comes the hard part: delivering the results.

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