The Ford government has released its new environment plan “Preserving and Protecting Our Environment: A Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan”. The plan has been placed for public comment on Ontario’s Environment Registry until January 28, 2019. To access the posting please click here.
The proposed Environment Plan addresses four key environmental challenges facing Ontario:
- Protecting air, lakes and rivers
- Addressing climate change – which we discuss below
- Reducing litter and waste and keeping land and soil clean
- Conserving land and greenspace
Interestingly, the government’s proposal acknowledges the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions reduction made by its predecessor’s elimination of coal-fire energy generation.
“By moving to a combination of sustainable hydroelectric and nuclear generating capacity, Ontario has avoided up to 30 megatonnes of annual greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to taking seven million vehicles off our roads. Today, our electricity is virtually emissions-free.
Measured against the same base year of Canada’s target under the Paris Agreement (2005), the province’s total greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 22%– even while the rest of Canada saw emissions increase by 3% during that same time.”
But, the proposal continues, Canada’s heavy lifting on greenhouse gas emission reductions has come at a substantial cost to Ontario families. Ontario will “continue to do our share to address climate change and protect our environment…in a way that protects our economy and respects the people.”
The Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018 requires the establishment of targets for reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario and the preparation of a climate change plan and progress reports in respect of the plan. The chapter of the Environment Plan on Climate Change is intended to address this obligation.
That chapter sets out various objectives including: building resilience; making polluters accountable (by implementing emission performance standards for large emitters); activating the private sector; using energy, resources wisely; and continuing to do Ontario’s share toward achieving the Paris Agreement target.
Specifically on this last, the Plan commits to a reduction in Ontario’s emissions of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, which it says aligns Ontario with Canada’s 2030 target under the Paris Agreement.
That target will be achieved through a combination of the following measures: low carbon vehicles uptake; industry performance standards; clean fuels (ethanol gasoline, renewable natural gas); federal clean fuel standard; natural gas conservation; the Ontario Carbon Trust (an emission reduction fund that will use public funds to leverage private investment in clean technologies); innovation; and other policies (organic waste, transit).
There is no mention of federal carbon pricing, which is set to take effect at the beginning of next year and which Ontario along with Saskatchewan is challenging through the courts.
The Environmental Plan states that actions will be measured against the following guiding principles:
- Clear Rules – strong enforcement: polluters will be held accountable with stronger enforcement and tougher penalties, while reducing regulatory burden for responsible businesses
- Trust and Transparency: information and the tools required will be provided – with a particular focus on real-time monitoring – to understand current environmental challenges and how these challenges impact individuals, businesses and communities across the province
- Resilient Communities and Local Solutions: government will work with communities and use best scientific practices and other evidence-based methods to develop unique solutions to their challenges
Manning Environmental Law is a Canadian law firm based in Toronto, Ontario. Our practice is focussed on environmental law, energy law and aboriginal law.
Paul Manning is a certified specialist in environmental law. He has been named as one of the World’s Leading Environmental Lawyers and one of the World’s Leading Climate Change Lawyers by Who’s Who Legal.
As always, these posts are provided only as a general guide and are not legal advice. If you do have any issue that requires legal advice please get in touch. Our contact details can be found here