Ontario releases new climate change strategy ahead of COP21

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25 November 2015

NEW YORK: With one week to go until the COP21 global climate talks, the Canadian Government of Ontario has released a new strategy to accelerate greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, days after passing a pioneering ban on coal-fired power.

Ontario, which is a member of The Climate Group's States & Regions Alliance, is already on track to reduce its per capita carbon footprint by 2050. The announcement of its new climate strategy – which is also showcased on the UN’s NAZCA platform – comes days before the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris, which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be attending.

The new Climate Change Strategy will see Ontario continue to expand its low carbon economy across all sectors including transport, agriculture and forestry by re-evaluating land-use plans and increasing clean technology use, government collaboration and resource efficiency.

Legislation to ban coal-fired power was also passed this week by Ontario, marking a first-of-its-kind law and one of the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction initiatives in North America. The Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act sets fines for anyone who violates the ban.

Libby Ferguson, States & Regions Director, The Climate Group commented: “Just one week before the global climate talks in Paris, we welcome Ontario’s new climate change plan as a pioneering member of our States & Regions Alliance. The extensive public consultation the province carried out to ensure all stakeholders participated in shaping the strategy was an innovative approach to transparency.

“Ontario’s phasing out of coal in 2014, latest ban on coal-fired power and commitment to implement a carbon pricing system are among many commendable actions that national leaders can learn from as they meet in Paris.”

Ontario’s strong track record for climate action includes being the first Canadian province to develop a green bond program and the fact it has cut carbon emissions by 19% in 10 years.

As part of the Under2MOU program, Ontario already has a target of reducing emission by 80% relative to 1990 levels by 2050. Its new mid-term 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target is 37% below 1990 levels.

In further climate efforts, earlier this year Premier Katherine Wynne announced that Ontario intends to connect with a cap-and-trade market set up by fellow States & Regions Alliance partners, Québec and California, in the near future.

The Canadian province also recently made a multi-billion-dollar investment in replacing its fossil-fuel powered rail network with a fully electric Regional Express Rail system. The initiative is expected to carry triple the amount of commuters over the next 15 years, as well as support more energy efficient land-use patterns, which will lead to further greenhouse gas reductions.

Ontario reports all low carbon actions likes these to 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.

Preliminary emissions reduction targets and inventory data from sub-national governments reported to the Compact was announced in July and includes total emissions cuts by 7.9 GtCO2e by 2030, which is greater than 2012 emissions of the US - the world’s second-largest emitter.

The first Compact of States and Regions disclosure report will be released ahead of Paris early next month, during COP21.

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by Gaby Romano

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