Ontario’s new climate plan will boost EVs, net-zero houses and clean businesses

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8 June 2016

LONDON: The Canadian province of Ontario has just launched its climate plan, which aims to incentivize citizens to use electric vehicles by subsidizing free overnight electrical charging at home and making garage plugs mandatory in all new residential construction – as well as offsetting the carbon footprint of all houses in the region.

These bold initiatives are part of Ontario’s Five Year Climate Action Plan 2016-2020, a strategy the provincial government just presented to the public in Toronto. Through the plan, the province – a member of The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance – is showing how sub-national governments are delivering the historic Paris Agreement and continuing to positively impact businesses and citizens.

“Ontario is taking a major step forward with the release of our comprehensive five-year Climate Change Action Plan,” Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment & Climate Change told The Climate Group. “The plan puts us on a clear path to achieving our greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets, providing more choices to families and businesses on ways to become energy efficient and lower energy bills, and forging a sustainable, strong and prosperous economy for years to come.”

“Today’s announcement builds on the great progress we have made so far, including banning coal-fired electricity generation, electrifying and improving our commuter rail network and collaborating with fellow regional leaders in The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance to effect real change.”


Ontario recently announced a mid-term goal to cut its GHG emissions by 37% below 1990 levels by 2030. The announcement complements the objective – put in its legislation – of cutting GHGs by 15% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, based on 1990 levels. Ontario has already met its 2014 target of cutting GHG emissions by 6%.

The attention on electric vehicles (EVs) in the new five-year climate plan is not new; recently, Ontario’s government increased incentives to buy EVs by up to CA$14,000 (US$11,000), in a move to increase the spread of this clean technology.

The new plan will further expand on existing rebates, making up to CA$1,000 (US$786) available to citizens to install a home-charging station.

The government also intends to eliminate the 13% harmonized sales tax for electric cars by 2018, which is nationally determined. In addition, Ontario will provide further incentives for vehicles with five or more seats and a battery capacity of more than 5 kilowatt-hours.

At the same time, the plan will increase the availability and use of lower-carbon fuel, such as methane, while increasing the use of low carbon trucks and buses. The intent for the province is to become “a North American leader in low carbon and zero-emission transportation,” states the plan.

“Ontario is showing how public vision and private ingenuity can create healthier and more rewarding solutions for citizens and businesses” said Libby FergusonStates & Regions DirectorThe Climate Group. “As a member of the States & Regions Alliance, Ontario has committed to bold climate pledges. With such initiatives, it’s demonstrating the importance of clear, ambitious policies that can unleash the opportunities of a low carbon economy.”


Achieving net-zero homes is another crucial point in the new climate plan. As The Climate Group’s program Home2025 shows, this is an area where climate actions today can make a real difference in shaping a cleaner, sustainable future. To date, homes account globally for 24% of the world’s final energy demand – amounting to 17% of global CO2 emissions.

Giving citizens a clear, informed choice on how they can retrofit their homes – while pushing for cleaner regulations for new buildings – is central in Ontario’s climate plan. In particular, the government will help its citizens improve energy efficiency, another important area to save both money and emissions.

However, the core of Ontario’s climate plan is its ‘cap-and-trade’ mechanism, which will enter into effect in July. Announced last April, the system will create the largest regional carbon market in North America when linked to the joint Emission Trading Scheme of Québec and California – both States & Regions Alliance members – which was launched in 2014.

The funds to sustain the climate actions contained in Ontario’s bold plan will come from the Green Investment Fund, which today totals CA$325million (US$232 million) – and uses the revenue of the ‘cap-and-trade’ system, which is expected to raise up to US$2 billion per year. This way, the government has created a ‘virtuous cycle’ where the carbon price and the climate plan work together to reinforce each other.

Ontario already has the fastest growing clean tech sector in Canada, with 2,700 clean tech firms employing 65,000 people and generating annual revenues of more than US$8 billion. The province is also the first industrial region in North America to eliminate coal-fired power, while heavily investing in clean technologies.

The province is also part of the Under2MOU program, of which The Climate Group acts as Secretariat, to commit with other like-minded governments to work together keeping the global warming under 2 degrees Celsius since the beginning of the industrial era.

Ontario also reports all its climate actions The Climate Group’s Compact of States and Regions, which provides the first ever single, global account of GHG reduction targets made by state and regional governments.

by Ilario D'Amato

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