The House

Ontario unveils new climate plan

The province released its new plan to fight climate change this week - how does it stack up? Ontario Environment Minister Rod Phillips is here.
Ontario Environment Minister Rod Phillips discusses the government's climate plan during an event at the Cold Creek Conservation Area. He talked about more details with CBC Radio's The House. (Tijana Martin/Canadian Press)
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Ontario Premier Doug Ford has made no secret of his dislike of the federal government's plan to price carbon. This week, his Progressive Conservative government set out its own roadmap in reducing emissions. 

The new plan doesn't include a price on carbon, and instead focuses on incentives to encourage companies to reduce their emissions. 

"We think the international agreement in Paris, we're confident we'll be able to get to [those targets]," said Phillips. "In part that's because Ontario, since 2005, has already achieved a 22 per cent reduction in emissions. What we have now is a plan to methodically and sensibly get that remaining eight per cent" of the 30 per cent above 2005 levels that is the goal of the Paris climate accord.

How does the Ontario government intend to do that? 

"There are a number of areas. Part of that is going to be uptake of low carbon vehicles, industry performance standards, clean fuel, so this is moving our ethanol standard to 15 per cent from currently where it's at, at eight per cent," Phillips said. 

"There's a number of pieces laid out in the plan. And all of those over a period of the next 12 years will lead to us getting to that 18 mega tonne reduction that's our objective."

A UN report out this week laid out a harsh new reality, calling on countries and jurisdictions to triple efforts on environmental action or face catastrophic climate change in the form of rising sea-levels, fires, droughts and other extreme weather events. 

Phillips said one of the key challenges in dealing with that new reality is making people feel connected to the fight against climate change so that behaviours can be adjusted.

"The conversation's always been about agreements signed in European capitals and complicated mega tonnes of carbon, versus the things that affect them," Phillips said. 

"Helping people deal with the actual impacts of climate change on their communities, on their homes, helps connect people and helps drive that behaviour change."

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