Canada: Ontario Announces Five-Year Climate Change Action Plan

On June 8, 2016, the Ontario government (Government) released a five-year Climate Change Action Plan (Action Plan), which builds on the Government's Climate Change Strategy released in November 2015, that set the long-term vision for meeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets. The Action Plan outlines the key actions the Government will take to combat climate change at a cost of C$5.9-billion to C$8.3-billion. It acknowledges that there is a need to maintain a competitive economy while achieving environmental results — this will be the Government's biggest challenge as it attempts to "up the ante" in its climate change fight. It is noteworthy that until the Government passes laws to implement the various proposals, the Action Plan will have no legal effect.

The Action Plan states that the Government is seeking to build on Ontario's new climate change legislation and to ensure the proceeds of cap-and-trade system (estimated to be C$1.8-billion per year) are invested into green projects. For further details of the new legislative measures, please see our May 2016 Blakes Bulletin: Ontario Announces Significant Climate Change, Cap-and-Trade, GHG Emissions Legislative Developments and the new Government website for the cap-and-trade regime, which outlines the dates of the cap-and-trade training sessions, led by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and the important 2016 and 2017 registration and submission deadlines.

WHAT DOES THE ACTION PLAN ADDRESS?

The 86-page Action Plan outlines the Government's intention to:

  • Establish a "green bank" to help homeowners and businesses access energy-efficient technologies to reduce GHG emissions from buildings
  • Create a cleaner transportation system
  • Stop the increase of emissions from buildings
  • Encourage installation and retrofit of clean energy systems (solar, battery storage, insulation and heat pumps) for homeowners and businesses
  • Support a carbon market
  • Work in partnership with First Nations and Metis communities to address climate change
  • Make the Government carbon neutral by 2018
  • Focus on sustainable agriculture and forestry and tackle GHG pollution from the waste sector

ACTION PLAN HIGHLIGHTS

No Ban on Natural Gas

Contrary to the leaked reports of the draft Action Plan in May, there is no ban on natural gas for heating. However, the Government will seek to help homeowners reduce their carbon footprints by supporting additional choice. The Government intends to help homeowners purchase and install low-carbon energy technologies such as geothermal or air-source heat pumps, solar thermal and solar energy generation. Fiscal incentives will also be introduced to encourage net zero carbon homes. All of these measures will reduce the reliance on the use of natural gas for heating.

Softening the Impact of the Cap-and-Trade Program

The Action Plan states that the Government will work to reduce the impact of the cap-and-trade program on low-income households and vulnerable communities. The Government intends to keep electricity rates affordable through the use of cap-and-trade proceeds to offset the cost of GHG reduction initiatives that are currently funded by residential and industrial consumers through their electricity bills. Between C$1-billion and C$1.32-billion will be allocated to this action, with a start date of 2017.

The Government intends to help business and industry manage the impacts of cap-and-trade by supporting significant emission reductions by providing funds to offset the cost of low-carbon technologies, support research and development (R&D) and provide allowances to industry to help them transition to lower carbon technology while they reduce GHG pollution. These actions to facilitate the transition to a carbon priced economy are laudable but the Government must be careful to not dilute the effectiveness of the cap-and-trade program by the provision of too many free allowances or offset credits. The EU Emission Trading System was significantly impacted by the import of international offset credits and the high availability of allowances resulting in a low carbon price and a weaker incentive to reduce emissions.

The Green Bank — Not a Real Bank

The Government intends to introduce a "green bank" to deploy and finance readily available low-carbon energy technologies. The intended Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account funding for this initiative is between C$875-million and C$1.1-billion, with a start date of 2018. The green bank is intended to help households understand government grants and incentives and to provide households with assistance to secure flexible low-interest financing to help pay for GHG reducing energy improvements in their homes. It will also support large commercial and industrial projects, or projects that require scale to be financed privately, by working with commercial banks to help aggregate projects to reduce risk. The green bank would appear to be an advisory body rather than a typical lending institution.

Transportation

More than 33 per cent of Ontario's GHG pollution is caused by the transportation sector. The Action Plan establishes an electric and hydrogen passenger vehicles sales target of five per cent in 2020 (in 2015, five per cent of the number of cars sold was 14,000). A number of initiatives are going to be introduced to increase the use of electric vehicles. Ontario will work with the federal government to eliminate the harmonized sales tax on zero-emission vehicles and to increase access to infrastructure for charging electric vehicles. The Government also intends to accelerate the deployment of the regional express rail system (between C$355-million and C$675-million has been allocated to this rail initiative).

R&D Tax and Regulatory Policies

Tax and regulatory policies will be introduced to encourage innovations, including: R&D tax credits; potentially accelerated capital cost allowances for technologies that reduce GHG pollution; and the broadly framed comment that regulatory requirements will be updated to support the adoption of innovative industrial technologies.

Environmental Assessments

A draft guide for projects, titled Consideration of Climate Change in Environmental Assessment in Ontario, and undertakings under the Environmental Assessment Act, describe various approaches to the treatment of climate change in environmental assessment procedures and studies. This guide will become part of the environmental assessment programs guides and codes of practice.

Annual Updates

The Government will produce a publicly available annual report that describes the status of the actions set out in the Action Plan.

WHERE ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES?

This plan, if fully implemented, will result in large transportation projects; considerable opportunities for clean energy system developers and contractors; significant R&D projects; encouragement of new technologies in the agriculture, forestry and waste sectors and significant opportunities for advisors. The Action Plan states that the Ontario environmental and clean technology sector is made up of approximately 3,000 firms employing 65,000 people and is estimated to be worth C$8-billion in annual revenue and C$1-billion in export earnings. There is no doubt that this sector will grow considerably if the Action Plan is implemented.

At the recent Blakes-sponsored National Energy Roundtable conference in Toronto, there was considerable debate regarding the merits of Ontario's cap-and-trade regime as opposed to a carbon tax, but there was overwhelming support for the implementation of new measures to tackle climate change. Ontario has significant expertise in this sector.

It remains to be seen how aggressively the Government will push forward with the proposals set out in the Action Plan. It will be interesting to see in the 2017 Action Plan annual report if real progress has been made in Ontario's fight against climate change.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.