In Danger of failing. 

Many many decades ago, this language appeared on school report cards. A check mark warned parents that their child might not advance to the next grade.  Judging by the recent conclusions of Gordon Miller (Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner), “In danger of failing” could refer to Ontario.

His 2014 report  to the Ontario Legislature on Ontario’s performance questions whether the present Government is committed to programs that will result in Ontario meeting its 2020 GHG reduction target.

Ontario committed to GHG reduction targets in its 2007 Climate Action Plan.  The Province met its interim 2014 target principally through the phasing out of coal-fired electrical generating plants.  Why then is Miller pessimistic about meeting the 2020 target?

The Report explains that Ontario has failed to establish new policy objectives that will result in further reduction of GHG emissions over the next six years.

A large part of GHG emissions in Ontario is attributable to transportation.  In this year’s election the Ontario Liberal Party undertook to improve transport infrastructure for public transit, particularly in Toronto, which should reduce GHG emissions from automobiles.  This election promise, coupled with GHG emissions standards that will apply to automobiles manufactured after 2017, should have a positive effect on emissions levels from this source.

But that is not enough – more must be done.  Yet in the face of this need, the Ontario Government has whittled back the 2020 GHG reductions target by 80%.  The Government has not explained why it is reneging on the commitment in its Climate Action Plan. There is no assurance that the Government will commit to either policy initiatives or additional financing to fulfill its Action Plan promises.

Miller’s Report contains this observation why meeting these targets is essential:

The release of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report represents a watershed event in global climate science; the science underlying climate change has become much more compelling and certain, and the projections being made are dire indeed.

No sense counting on the Federal Government to set an example for Ontario: the Federal Government is too busy implementing policies encouraging the exploitation of the Tar Sands, which will guarantee that Canada does not meet its international reduction targets.


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