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The Province of Ontario

Name
The Province of Ontario
Population
12.85 million (2011)
GDP
C$612.5 billion (2010)
Country
Canada
The Province of Ontario

Overview

Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: 165.1 MtCO2eq in 2009. 

Ontario is Canada’s most populous region, with 12.85 million people within its borders (2011). One in three Canadians calls Ontario home. Two major cities share the bulk of this hefty population. Toronto, generously positioned within a stone’s throw of the US states of New York and Michigan, is the nation’s largest city. The other is the nation’s capital, Ottawa.

The majority of the region’s people inhabit these two metropolises and the area surrounding them, in the area defined as South Ontario. In contrast, the much larger expanse of land defined as North Ontario is sparsely populated. It shares its Western border with Manitoba and with Hudson Bay to the North. Ontario is Canada's second largest province by land area, covering more than one million square kilometers.

Ontario is rich in natural resources. Its rivers, including its share of the Niagara River, bless it with huge hydroelectric resources. Forests cover nearly two-thirds of the regions land-base. Producing more than 30 different mineral products, Ontario is Canada’s leading producer of metals.

Ontario's highly diversified economy offers opportunities in numerous sectors. However, Ontario’s main economic activity is focused around the finance, insurance and real estate sectors, which make up nearly a quarter of its gross domestic product (GDP) (23.7%). Toronto houses the majority of these economic activities. The region also boasts strong manufacturing, trade, health and education sectors (15%, 12% and 11.8% respectively). Southern Ontario, with its proximity to US markets, is heavily industrialized, while Northern Ontario relies heavily on its natural resources.

Ontario’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions totaled 165.1 MtCO2eq in 2009. The largest contributors were the transport and industry sectors, which together make up over 60% of total GHG emissions (35% and 26%). Buildings and power are the other major contributing sectors (17% and 11.6%). Agriculture and waste make up the rest. 

The reason the power sector is able to contribute a relatively small percentage of the overall state emissions is due to the dominance of nuclear power in the region, alongside considerable hydropower capacity. With over half the region’s capacity being satisfied by nuclear (56.9%) and another fifth from hydro (22.2%), the total fossil fuel capacity of the regions stands as low as 17.4%. Of this, under 3% is coal-powered generation – the majority is gas (14.7%). Ontario is on schedule for a complete coal phase-out by 2014.

In order to guide its transition to a low carbon economy, Ontario has targeted a 6% reduction of GHGs by 2014 (1990 levels), rising to 15% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

To achieve these targets, it has developed initiatives for all sectors, but the onus has been put on reducing emissions in the main contributing sectors – transport and industry, while not hindering the good progress already achieved in the power and buildings sectors.

The landmark Green Energy Act (GEA), which received Royal Assent in May 2009, has boosted investment in renewable energy projects and increased conservation, creating green jobs and economic growth. It is eliminating many of the barriers previously faced by renewable energy developers and is part of Ontario's plan to become a leading green economy in North America. Ontario has also committed to planting 50 million trees by 2020.

Current Activities

Energy efficiency

Changes to Ontario’s Building Code made in 2006 introduced significant energy-efficiency requirements, with further changes being considered. Adding to this, the Green Energy Act (GEA) has created the potential for savings and better managed household energy expenditures through a series of conservation measures.

In August 2011, Ontario passed a new regulation that will require Ontario’s Broader Public Sector (BPS) (e.g. municipalities, universities, colleges, school and hospitals) to develop and implement energy conservation plans. Under the regulation, BPS organizations will be required to report on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions beginning July 2013 and developing energy conservation plans beginning July 2014.

In February 2012, Ontario passed a regulation banning inefficient general service lighting that begins in 2014. Ontario has also created a Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) to guide the province as it continues to build a clean, modern and reliable electricity system for Ontario families now and into the future. Under the LTEP, Ontario expects to have 10,700 megawatts (MW) of clean renewable energy online from wind, solar and bio-energy by the end of 2018 – enough electricity each year to power more than 2 million homes.

Renewable energy

Alongside its commitment to phasing out coal by 2014, Ontario has put considerable effort into tapping into its renewable resources. In the early 20th century, Ontario Hydro began harnessing the remarkable power of the Niagara Falls to provide reliable electricity to homes and businesses. More recently, the region has amped up its pursuit of non-hydro renewable generation. The Green Energy Act (GEA) has helped attract a total of $27 billion in private sector investment in the clean energy industry.

Since the launch of the FIT Program in 2009, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has signed about 2,000 small and large FIT contracts with clean energy producers. These contracts total approximately 4,600 MW and are expected to produce enough electricity each year to power 1.2 million homes. In addition, almost12,000 families, farmers, community groups and small businesses are participating in the microFIT Program.

Clean transport

The Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area integrates planning for local and regional transit, GO Transit, major roads and new transit infrastructure for the region.

Ontario has made record investments in public transit. Since 2003, the Province has invested more than $13.4 billion to improve and expand public transit

Implemented as a pilot in 2009, the now permanent Long-Combination Vehicle (LCV) Program is a well established success and continues to expand. Each LCV uses about one-third less fuel than the two tractor-trailers it replaces.

Mandatory speed limiter legislation, passed in 2008, limits heavy-duty truck speeds to 105 km/h and is expected to reduce GHG emissions annually by 280,000 tonnes.

A network of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes (car-pool lanes) encourages carpooling to move more people in fewer vehicles. Ontario also provides two cents per liter of annual gas tax revenues to municipal transit providers to increase transit ridership.

As part of the Electric Vehicle Incentive Program, Ontario businesses, individuals and organizations are eligible for an incentive towards the purchase or lease of a new plug-in hybrid electric, or battery electric vehicle. Purchasers can also benefit from a green license plate, which allows drivers to use High Occupancy Vehicle lanes with only a single occupant until 2015, as well as access to future public recharging facilities at GO stations and other Ontario government parking lots.

Through the Green Commercial Vehicle Program, Ontario provided grants for the purchases of alternative fuel vehicles or to retrofit heavy duty vehicles with anti-idling technologies.

Sustainable land use

The Ontario Government is working with private landowners and community groups to plant 50 million trees on private and public lands in southern Ontario by 2020.

The Greenbelt Plan, established in 2005, identifies areas where urbanization should not occur in order to provide permanent protection to the agricultural land base and the ecological features and functions occurring on that landscape. As the world’s largest greenbelt, it spans 1.8 million acres of working countryside.

The Environmental Farm Plan is a voluntary program implemented by Ontario that helps farmers learn best management practices in areas such as manure management and farm energy audits.

Ontario has also invested in programs to promote local food. This includes ‘Foodland Ontario’, a project that promotes awareness and communicates the benefits of Ontario food.

Waste management

Where waste is land-filled, Ontario requires landfill gas collection and use or flaring (burning) for new and operating landfills larger than 1.5 million cubic meters. This measure, implemented in 2008, will significantly increase the amount of methane, a major greenhouse gas, being captured from landfills. 

International collaboration

Ontario participates in:

  • The Climate Registry, a US collaboration aimed at developing and managing a common GHG emissions reporting system.
  • North America 2050, a forum for states, provinces and stakeholders to identify leadership opportunities in climate and clean energy initiatives. Ontario also takes part in a number of promising cap and trade initiatives.
  • Ontario is a member of the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP), a forum made up of countries and regions that have implemented or are actively pursuing the implementation of carbon markets through mandatory cap and trade system. 
  • It has also been collaborating with other key Canada and US partners within the Western Climate Initiative on a coordinated approach including infrastructure and administration to support a regional cap and trade program. 
  • On top of this, Ontario has been an observer in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which has been operating an electricity sector cap and trade program in the U.S. Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states since 2009.

On June 2, 2008, Ontario signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Quebec to collaborate on a regional cap and trade system for greenhouse gases. Ontario and Quebec agreed to develop regulations required to implement a cap and trade system and to coordinate work on the required infrastructure and administrative support. The two provinces will work together to make their approach compatible with other cap and trade systems that are emerging in North America and around the world. 

In December 2009, Ontario passed the Environmental Protection Amendment Act (Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading), 2009, which provides the legislative authority for a cap and trade program that can link to other systems. 

Ontario is phasing in the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Regulation to collect data to support the design of the cap and trade program. The regulation mandates reporting for all regulated sources emitting more than 25,000 tons of CO2eq per year.

Smart cities

In 2006, Ontario released the Growth Plan for the Greater Horseshoe, a 25-year vision and plan for managing population and employment growth in the provinces largest urban area. The Growth Plan sets targets for creating higher density communities with a smaller environmental footprint and includes policies on transit-supportive community design and urban form which promote access to transit, walking, bicycling, and a reduction in automobile use.

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