June 25, 2007

Ontario sets targets for greenhouse gas reduction, signs new transboundary air quality accord

As part of Ontario's climate change plan, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced a series of targets for reducing the province's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The targets, along with an overview for achieving them, were presented at the June 18 Shared Air Summit in Toronto.

The plan calls for GHG reductions of:

*6% below 1990 levels (or 61 megatonnes) by 2014;

*15% below 1990 levels (or 99 Mt) by 2020; and

*80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

To achieve its 2014 targets, said McGuinty, "we will finish the job of closing down our coal plants and carry on with our existing policies like the Greenbelt. That gets us 50% of the way to our 2014 target.

"The 2014 date is based on our long-term energy plan, and today I am announcing that we are giving that date the force of law by signing a regulation that the coal plants will close by the end of 2014," McGuinty told the Summit.

He continued with additional measures to reach the reduction targets. "About 15% will come from transit investments and working on initiatives with the federal government and other partners, such as strong, national fuel efficiency and auto emissions standards. Some 15% will come from new policies - some already announced and some soon to come - things like home audits and working with municipalities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The remaining portion," he said, "will come from research and innovation into new technologies which would fight climate change and strengthen the economy."

He said the government will use a similar approach to meet its targets for 2020 and 2050. The strategy will be backed by tough measures will be put in place to ensure transparency and accountability. This will include annual public reporting on progress and an independent review by the Environment Commissioner on the government's progress in reducing GHG emissions.

The Shared Air Summit also saw the signing of a five-year climate change and air quality agreement between Ontario and New Brunswick. The Agreement to Reduce Transboundary Air Pollution, Improve Regional Air Quality and Address Climate Change, signed by the two provinces' Environment Ministers, Laurel Broten and Roland Haché, is intended to foster mutual understanding and cooperation on transboundary air quality impacts and climate change between the two provinces. This includes:

*promoting the sharing of information and expertise on the impacts of transboundary air pollution and climate change;

*implementing measures to prevent transboundary environmental impacts;

*apprising and consulting each province on activities related to atmospheric pollutants;

*encouraging the sharing of policy, planning and scientific expertise for regional air quality issues; and

*consulting and co-ordinating work on climate change issues

The terms of the accord call for each province to designate a liaison representative to be responsible for implementation and to establish, within the next 90 days, a joint task force. Meeting at least once a year, this task force will:

*regularly share information on issues related to the environmental impacts from transboundary air pollution and climate change on a regular basis;

*develop a plan and an annual program to address the agreement's objectives and oversee its implementation; and

*report regularly to their respective Ministers of Environment.

For New Brunswick, the conference and signing of the agreement follow the release of its Climate Change Action Plan (EcoWeek June 18, 2007). The province will be working to reduce its GHG emissions to 1990 levels in 2012, with a longer-term commitment to reducing emissions by 10% below 1990 levels in 2020.

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