A Special Report to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
On December 10, 2008, the Ontario Minister of the Environment, on behalf of the Ontario government, released Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan Annual Report 2007-2008: Creating our Sustainable Future (“the Report”). The intent of the Report has been to document steps taken so far to deliver on the Government of Ontario’s Go Green Action Plan On Climate Change, announced in August 2007. The Action Plan notes that it has set “real, achievable goals – reductions in greenhouse gases that will contribute to addressing the defining issue of our generation, and establish a green, competitive economy.”
In conjunction with the launch of the Action Plan, the Premier’s office announced that tough measures “will be put in place to ensure transparency and accountability. This will include a report back to Ontarians every year in the legislature and an independent review by the Environmental Commissioner on the government’s progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” This is a new role for the ECO.
The purpose of this ECO review (“the Review”) is to answer three key questions:
- Are we are on track to achieve the 2014 greenhouse gas (GHG) target of 166 million tonnes (Mt) identified in the Report?
- How effective is the suite of initiatives identified in the Report in achieving a GHG reduction of 61 million tonnes per year (Mt/yr) at 2014?
- What will the ECO expect to see in next year’s Report to improve planning transparency?
Dec 10, 2008 For Immediate Release
(Queen’s Park) It is critical that, in these challenging economic times, we refuse to compromise on our commitments to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, said Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), today upon the release of his Special Report to the Legislature, Progress in a Climate of Change.
The ECO has fulfilled his responsibility of providing an independent review of the government’s recently tabled “Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan: Creating our Sustainable Future, Annual Report 2007-2008” (the “December 2008 Action Plan Report”). This document outlines the steps the government has put in place to deliver on the Government of Ontario’s Go Green Action Plan On Climate Change, announced in August 2007.
I am pleased with the efforts the government is making in charting a transparent course to ensure Ontario will reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, continued Miller. In the future, when evaluating the Ontario government’s progress, there will be two items on the report card. (1) Can they meet the original target of 6% reduction below 1990 levels by 2014? (2) Will their initiatives to reduce GHG emissions be successful?
The ECO notes that the original August 2007 Action Plan was based on earlier models which do not reflect the recent economic downturn. Therefore, future GHG emission reductions may be attributable to a decline in economic activity, rather than the success of government initiatives. It will be important for the government to clarify the extent to which these reductions are permanent or only transitory, states the ECO report. If the economic contraction results in a further lowering of emissions, then the suite of measures contained in the 2008 Action Plan Report should be additive to produce even lower actual GHG emissions in 2014.
The challenge for all of us is to ensure that we have the correct systems in place to measure how well we are progressing towards our goals of reducing GHG emissions, fostering a greener economy and protecting the environment, said Mr. Miller. He expressed surprise that the 2008 Action Plan Report contains no numbers on reductions to date. I look forward to numbers and detailed information on methodology before next year’s Action Plan is finalized.