A new report from Environment Defence shows that despite the Ontario government’s claims, the province has failed to take meaningful action on climate change or reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Toronto, Ont. – This past Friday, Minister Yurek outlined his government’s progress on its Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan and claimed to be lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental Defence’s new report Yours to Recover: A Progress Report on Ontario’s Climate Change Actions presents evidence that Ontario’s emissions are rising as a result of government inaction.

After two years, the Ontario government has largely ignored its own Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan and failed to take meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What little progress has been made is in areas with the least potential for reducing emissions, while actions with the potential to deliver significant emissions reductions have been overlooked.

“Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising when they should be falling,” said Sarah Buchanan, Ontario Climate Program Manager at Environmental Defence. “The province needs to stop using the Environment Plan as a prop and start acting on its promises to cut the growing emissions from buildings and transportation. Otherwise there is no hope for Ontario to reach its target to reduce emissions 30 per cent by 2030.”

Many promises in the Environment Plan that have yet to be implemented could stimulate an economy slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report details some unimplemented promises that have a strong potential to stimulate Ontario’s economy.  So far, the province’s recovery plans have ignored the need to shift to a low carbon future – a shift being embraced around the world by governments of all political stripes. In fact, Ontario’s COVID-19 economic recovery plans will make climate change worse by accelerating destructive, high carbon projects like highways and suburban sprawl.

Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions rose for the first time in nearly a decade in 2018, the year the current government took power. Environmental Defence’s report shows that these emissions are likely to continue to rise for the following reasons:

  • COVID-19 recovery measures like Bill 197 have accelerated environmental destruction and set the stage for a continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Environment Plan initiatives which have moved forward, like increasing renewable content in gasoline and an Emissions Performance Standards (EPS) pricing system for industrial polluters, will not reduce emissions as promised in the Environment Plan. Together they represent less than one-tenth of the reductions needed to reach Ontario’s climate target
  • Promised actions from the Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan with potential to meaningfully reduce emissions from buildings and transportation, like natural gas conservation and supporting electric vehicles, continue to be ignored
  • Ontario government plans for energy, infrastructure, electricity and transportation continue to increase emissions, with electricity emissions projected to rise 7 mega tonnes by 2030

“The recent update on the Environment Plan is a huge step backwards as it has no plans to improve energy efficiency in buildings, increase electric vehicle uptake, or phase out natural gas fired electricity. It’s clear the province is not interested in pursuing evidence-based climate solutions to meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or presenting credible evidence to back them up,” said Sarah Buchanan. “Instead, we’re left with more plans to make existing fossil fuels only slightly less destructive to the climate, by, for example, adding tiny amounts of hydrogen to gas lines. These plans won’t come close to achieving a net-zero future or even meeting the weak target in place right now. Ontario needs to stop pretending they can pollute their way out of the climate crisis and start taking meaningful action before it’s too late.”

You can find the report here.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, abraude@environmentaldefence.ca