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Ontario Contemplates ‘Ultra-Low Carbon’ Super-Agency

Danielle Scott/flickr
Danielle Scott/flickr

Ontario’s government is considering creating a new climate super-agency to oversee dramatic changes to the province’s energy economy, according to a discussion document obtained by the Globe and Mail.

Among other mandates, the new “ultra-low-carbon utility” would “make the majority of the province’s buildings emissions-free and slash the use of cars to just 20% of commuter trips by 2050,” the paper reports, citing a confidential draft of the province’s Climate Change Action Plan.

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To get there, the discussion paper envisions 1.7 million alternate fuel vehicles on Ontario’s roads by 2024, 80% of the population walking, biking, or taking transit to work, and the majority of the province’s building stock emissions-neutral by mid-century.

The proposal for a single, integrated agency got a thumbs-up from Keith Brooks, clean economy director at Environmental Defence, who called the plan “a fairly comprehensive approach.”. But Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association of Canada, cautioned that “manufacturers are not and will not make or sell that many cars for Canada by that date.”

A spokesperson for Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray warned the Globe not to read too much into the document. “These discussion documents are very much draft in nature and do not reflect any final decisions regarding the Climate Change Action Plan,” David Mullock wrote in an email. “We will continue to consult to ensure that Ontario is successful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in meeting our reduction targets.”

Later in the day, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced a $20-million investment to install nearly 500 EV charging stations across Ontario in 2017. The money will come out of the province’s $325-million green investment fund.

“We know that for electric vehicles to take off in Ontario, there has to be infrastructure in place,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said in December. “There is a real concern about climate change, but that concern can’t be allowed to just be passive. There has to be a way for people to take action.”