NOBLETON, Ontario. – The much anticipated climate change plan by Ontario is committed to meeting the Paris Agreement target in 2030 through various measures that include establishing funds to spur private investment in clean technology and implementing performance standards for large issuers.
The plan of the Progressive Conservative government, disclosed by Environment Minister Rod Phillips on Thursday, will see the province spend $ 400 million over four years on the Ontario Carbon Trust which is funded by taxpayers to partner with the private sector on green technology.
It will also consult with industry members to develop performance standards for large issuers.
"This is a plan that makes a break from the status quo, and that is a plan that balances a healthy health and economic environment," Phillips said. "Our plan will be to encourage individuals, families and businesses to take greater ownership of the environment with us while we work towards these common goals."
Phillips stressed that the plan – which replaced the previous Liberal regime's cap-and-trade system – did not impose carbon prices. The Tories said repeatedly during the spring election campaign that the carbon pricing system, which is a federal requirement, made life unaffordable for families.
The Ontario Carbon Trust will include a $ 50 million "reverse auction" that encourages businesses to bid on government contracts given based on the lowest cost per ton of greenhouse gas emissions.
This is a plan that breaks the status quo, and this is a plan that balances a healthy health and economic environment
The Carbon Trust appears to be a model similar to Australia's Emission Reduction Fund to address climate change. The system provides taxpayer-funded incentives to businesses, farmers and landowners to adopt environmentally friendly practices and technologies, but critics say it has allowed emissions to increase.
The climate plan will also form an independent council to work with the private sector to identify projects that will reduce emissions.
The province also plans to encourage greater use of electric vehicles, compressed natural gas in trucks and increase ethanol levels in gasoline.
It will also conduct an assessment of the impact of climate change in Ontario.
Under the Paris Agreement, targets are set to reduce emissions by 30 percent below the 2005 level by 2030. For Ontario, that means emissions reductions from 161 megatons to 143 megatons by 2030.
Phillips said Ontario was eight percent away from meeting that target.
"The plan that we present today, is a reasonable and achievable approach to doing that," he said.
The Paris Agreement is committed to keeping the increase in global average temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius.