Ontario urged to ramp up battle against climate change

Ontario’s acting environmental commissioner has released a report to show our progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.Ellen Schwartzel praised the province for meeting 2014 climate change targets, but voiced concerns about future goals. By 2020 the government needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19 megatonnes, roughly the equivalent to the reductions achieved when the province’s coal fired plants were closed. Schwartzel says we are not on target. She says the province is not prepared to manage climate change risks by 2020 but she remains hopeful that the leaders of the province will come up with new ways to put us on track. The report, released this morning, singles out the transportation sector as the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario. While the government has plans to spend $130 billion over the next 10 years on transit, the commissioner says action must be taken faster than that. “Transportation emissions remain Ontario’s biggest challenge. They have been growing both in relative and absolute terms and so far Ontario has not been able to bend that curve downwards.”“The heating and cooling of buildings are another sizeable source of emissions. Changing the future will take time. Ontario has solutions in place such as new transit infrastructure and new efficiency building standards; but new infrastructure does not get built overnight.” The release of the critical report, entitled Feeling the Heat, comes as the province hosts the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto. Schwartzel is hopeful that after this summit the province will propose new initiatives to target greenhouse gas emissions.

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