Ontario Becomes a Model for Canada With a GHG Reduction Target for 2030

Industrial Steam Cloud

By Arman Kazemi

May 21, 2015

Ontario recently announced its plans to reduce greenhouse gases by 2030. By doing so, it became the first Canadian province to detail its emissions targets in the lead up to a major international climate conference in Paris this December.

The 2030 goals operate as a mid-term target for the eventual goal of reducing emissions to 80 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050. The province previously established short goal of reducing emissions by 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. Their mid-term goal is 37 per cent reductions by 2030.

By making this announcement, Ontario is attempting to fulfil its promise to become a national leader in the fight against climate change.

Canadian academics have been urging the provinces and territories to take action to help Canada meet its international climate change targets. They cite carbon pricing initiatives like the Western Climate Initiative’s cap and trade accord between Quebec and California that Ontario just joined last month.

Last year Ontario led Canada to a fifth place ranking of worldwide countries investing in renewable energy. This was achieved thanks to the province’s expanded renewable capacity and significant procurements of solar and wind technology. Ontario’s feed-in-tariff program helped Canada rank seventh for solar energy installations in 2013.

Meanwhile, the federal government recently announced its own 2030 emissions reductions plan. Speaking in Winnipeg, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq committed to greenhouse gas reductions of 30 per cent below 2005 levels. This comes ahead of a G7 conference in Germany next month at which national leaders will be asked to formally release actionable emissions targets in preparation for the upcoming climate talks in Paris.

Various sources have pointed out, however, that Canada is likely to miss the emissions reduction targets that were set at the 2009 Copenhagen Accord. Many believe that the federal government’s unwillingness to set targets for major emitters in the Alberta tarsands is the main reason why Canada is unlikely to achieve existing climate commitments.

Despite challenges at the federal level, Ontario’s politicians see an opportunity to serve as a role model for other provinces and set new standards for the country.

“Establishing a 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 37 per cent below 1990 levels,” said Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, “sends a clear signal to Canada and the world that Ontario is committed to creating a lasting legacy of a better environment and a stronger low-carbon economy for future generations.”