Categorized | Canadian Politics

Environmental watchdog warns government cannot meet its greenhouse gas emission-reduction targets without radical changes

Posted on 11 April 2018 by admin

Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe calls for conservation and converting fossil fuel uses, including some gas-fuelled cars and trucks and some heating of our homes and businesses, to electricity.

 Ontario’s environmental watchdog warns the province’s aggressive greenhouse gas emission-reduction targets cannot be met without radical changes in behaviour.

Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe noted Tuesday that the government’s own climate-change legislation requires a weaning off of fossil fuels, such as gasoline and natural gas, by 2030.

“The climate law means that Ontarians must be prepared to reduce emissions from fossil fuel use by 40 to 50 per cent in the next 13 years,” said Saxe, as she unveiled her annual 320-page report to the Legislature.

“This means more conservation and converting some fossil fuel uses, including some gas-fuelled cars and trucks and some heating of our homes and businesses, to electricity, instead,” she said.

Saxe said the government’s Long-Term Energy Plan unveiled last October does not take into account the dramatic change required to curb carbon emissions that scientists say contribute to climate change.

That’s because the energy blueprint calculated that demand would remain stable even though the Liberal government is subsidizing electricity to keep hydro rates lower as Ontarians head toward a June 7 election.

The commissioner, an independent officer of the Legislature similar to the auditor general and the ombudsman, praised Queen’s Park for phasing out dirty coal-fired emissions.

She noted Ontario’s electricity system was 96 per cent emission-free due to nuclear generation, as well as solar and wind sources, even though coal was cheaper.

“Electricity was cheap, but it came at a very high cost to our environment and health,” said Saxe, who pointed out that asthma and other respiratory illnesses were worse before coal was eliminated.

“There is no doubt that our electricity system was a major contributor to poor air quality and higher health costs.”

Environment Minister Chris Ballard is expected to respond to the report later Tuesday.

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