Key aspects of the province’s plan to address climate change and reduce Ontario’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are not yet supported by sound evidence, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk says in her 2019 Annual Report.

The report, released on December 4, 2019, examined the plan released in November 2018 by Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. The plan, “Preserving and Protecting our Environment for Future Generations: A Made-in Ontario Environment Plan,” sets a target to reduce Ontario’s GHG emissions to 143 megatonnes (Mt) by 2030 in order to proportionately align Ontario with Canada’s target under the 2015 United Nations Paris Agreement.

“The Ministry acknowledged that it needs to develop, refine and update the Plan using an integrated model to more accurately estimate reductions associated with emission-reduction initiatives,” Lysyk said after her report was tabled in the Legislative Assembly. “We have made recommendations on what actions are needed to address that.”

According to the most recent data, Ontario’s 2017 emissions were 159 Mt. Canada produced 1.5 per cent of global emissions of 47,200 Mt. Ontario produced 22.2 per cent of the Canadian total, or 0.3 per cent of global emissions. The average emissions per person per year in Ontario of 11 tonnes are the second-lowest in Canada; however, this is higher than in many developed countries.

Key findings of the auditor general’s report are as follows:

  • To achieve the target, the plan proposes several initiatives that the Ministry estimates will result in reductions of 17.6 Mt by 2030. However, the report’s analysis found that the current initiatives in the plan only have the potential to achieve between 6.3 Mt and 13.0 Mt in emissions reductions.
  • To achieve 2.6 Mt in emissions reductions, the ministry assumes the number of electric vehicles will increase from 41,000 in 2019 to 1.3 million by 2030. However, in summer 2018, the province cancelled incentives for buying electric vehicles and installing charging stations. The ministry has not yet identified any planned initiatives that could increase the uptake of electric vehicles in order to achieve this estimated GHG reduction.
  • Estimated emissions reductions for several initiatives in the plan, such as increased renewable and compressed natural gas use, have no feasibility analyses. For other initiatives, such as future innovation, the ministry was unable to provide any evidence to support the estimated reductions.
  • The plan does not take into account the overlap of some initiatives, which means the plan double-counts and therefore overestimates their emission-reduction impacts.
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To read the full report, click here.

Featured image from the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario.

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