One of the Environmental Commissioner’s roles under the Environmental Bill of Rights is reporting on the province’s progress towards reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We do this by measuring the province’s progress against its own emissions reduction targets. For our most recent assessment, see our 2015 GHG Progress report.
Whenever you set an ambitious goal for yourself ‒ like running a marathon ‒ you need incremental goals in the shorter term to keep on track. It’s the same idea with the province’s GHG reduction targets leading up to its ambitious 2050 target.
These interim targets encourage the government to take actions now that will help steer a new course for Ontario’s economy, towards one that is low-carbon. Without these short-term targets, the difficult policy decisions needed to make this transition happen might otherwise be put off, which will only make them more costly and difficult later.
Targets also allow the public to hold the government to account, and track its progress on reducing GHG emissions in the province. For example, as we highlight in our 2015 report, as policies currently stand, Ontario is not on track to meet its GHG reduction target for 2020 (15% below 1990 levels). Hopefully Ontario’s climate change strategy, anticipated to be released late 2015, will put the province back onto track.
Getting from 2020 to 2050: Ontario’s new 2030 interim target
The province’s May 2015 introduction of an additional midterm target of 37% below 1990 levels by 2030 sets a new accountability target.
The setting of a new interim target adds to other positive steps recently taken by the government; such as its commitment to introduce a cap-and-trade system and to produce a new climate change strategy.
Climate change is clearly more of a priority for the province than it has been in years past. The ECO looks forward to the announcement of a suite of actions in the coming months which in aggregate will allow the province to meet its GHG reduction targets.