On February 12, 2015, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment
and Climate Change (MOECC) released a discussion paper outlining
the province's vision for building a low-carbon society and
proposed actions to achieve that vision. Key among the proposed
actions is a recommendation to impose a price on carbon.
Ontario's Climate Change Discussion Paper: 2015 aims
to generate feedback that will assist the province in developing a
climate change strategy and action plan to be announced later this
year. The MOECC is accepting comments on the discussion paper until
March 29, 2015.
Long-Term Vision: A Low-Carbon Society
Ontario's long-term vision is to develop an economy and
communities that are "low-carbon and resilient to the impacts
of climate change." This vision is intended to support
Ontario's previously-stated goal of achieving:
a 15% emissions reduction from 1990 levels by 2020;
an 80% emissions reduction from 1990 levels by 2050; and
carbon neutrality by the end of the century.
Proposed Actions: "Climate-Critical" Policy
In the discussion paper, the MOECC identifies in the discussion
paper four "climate-critical" policy areas to foster the
transformative changes necessary to achieve Ontario's long-term
1. Price on carbon. The MOECC recommends imposing a
price on greenhouse gas emissions to encourage companies and
consumers to move away from fossil fuels toward cleaner, more
efficient energy sources. Carbon pricing can take various forms,
including a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax. While the MOECC
recommends implementing some form of carbon pricing, it remains to
be seen whether Ontario will adopt a cap-and-trade system, a carbon
tax, or some other market-based mechanism.
2. Actions in key sectors. The MOECC recommends
improving conservation and energy efficiency in key sectors
including transportation, building, electricity, industry,
agriculture and forestry, and waste management.
3. Support science, research and technology. The MOECC
recognizes that achieving significant emissions reductions will
require scientific and technological breakthroughs. It therefore
recommends funding research and development efforts related to
4. Promote climate resilience and risk management. In
an effort to proactively manage the risks associated with rising
temperatures, the MOECC recommends investing in infrastructure that
is adaptable and resilient to extreme weather and other climate
The MOECC is seeking feedback on the vision and actions proposed
in the discussion paper. Comments will inform the province's
decision-making regarding the most effective initiatives for
meeting its long-term goals, including the best approach for
pricing greenhouse gas emissions. Following consultations, the
province intends to prepare a long-term climate change strategy and
a 5-year climate change action plan. Please contact any member of
our Environmental Law Group for more information on the discussion
The content of this article does not constitute legal advice
and should not be relied on in that way. Specific advice should be
sought about your specific circumstances.
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Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change continues to roll out its Climate Change Action Plan with its proposed GHG guide for projects that are subject to the province's Environmental Assessment Act.
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