Expect climate change plan details in new year: Kathleen Wynne

Premier Kathleen Wynne said Ontario’s long-term plans to combat climate change are “optimistic and entirely realistic” on Tuesday.

Long-term plan aims to dramatically cut carbon emissions in coming years

Ontario is expected to release more details about its proposed cap-and-trade system on Tuesday as it reveals its long-term plan to cut emissions. (John Rieti/CBC)

Premier Kathleen Wynne said Ontario's long-term plans to combat climate change are "optimistic and entirely realistic" on Tuesday.

The province wants to achieve an 80-per-cent reduction in emissions over 1990 levels by 2050. Wynne said to do that, the province will work on a range of projects, from getting more electric cars on the roads to changing the building codes to create more environmentally-friendly buildings.

However, a five-year "action plan" that will outline some of the first major steps the province will take won't be released until the new year. 

Environment Minister Glen Murray said that plan will achieve a 15-per-cent reduction in emissions over 1990 levels by 2020.

Wynne has previously announced a cap-and-trade system that will put a price on carbon emissions in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

The province plans to link its carbon trade system with ones in California and Quebec, and estimates the plan could bring in $2 billion a year in revenue for the Ontario government.

Murray — pressed on how much this will cost Ontario families — said the government is trying to make sure this doesn't negatively affect lower- or middle-class people. He suggested some revenues from the cap-and-trade plan may go back to citizens, though didn't provide details of how much that might be.

"The world has taken long enough to act globally that people are already going to pay," Murray said, pointing out the rising cost of groceries driven by climate change.

Provincial plans revealed before international meeting

Governments, too, are also getting hit. Murray said severe weather events have cost the government hundreds of millions.

The announcement comes ahead of the United Nations conference on climate change, known as COP21, which will be held in Paris beginning on Nov. 30.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to be joined by several premiers at the event, where he's vowed to find a "Canadian approach" to battling climate change.

On Monday evening, Trudeau held a four-hour working dinner with provincial and territorial leaders, to discuss the federal government's plans. So far, Trudeau's Liberal government hasn't released a national emission reduction target.

With files from The Canadian Press


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