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On June 8, 2016, Ontario released its Climate Change Action Plan. The plan follows closely on the heels of the introduction of legislation that will put a cap and trade programme into place in the province.

The 5-year plan is comprehensive, and hits on many of the same concerns as the Environmental Commissioner’s recent report, which was published on May 31. In particular, the plan focuses on reducing emissions from transportation, electricity generation, and buildings.

It includes a wide variety of measures aimed at combating climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Some interesting highlights include:

  • increasing the availability of zero-emission vehicles on the road and incentivizing the purchase and use vehicles that use less carbon fuel more widely available;
  • increasing the energy efficiency of buildings through education and, eventually, requiring new buildings to be more energy efficient;
  • facilitating the installation and retrofit of clean-energy systems;
  • improving commuter cycling networks;
  • providing free overnight electric vehicle charging and improving electric charging infrastructure across the province;
  • updating the Building Code to include long-term energy efficiency targets for new buildings;
  • establishing a Challenge Fund or Programme to support municipal projects aimed at reducing emissions;
  • eliminating minimum parking requirements for municipal zoning bylaws;
  • creating a “Global Centre for Low Carbon Mobility”—an organization that will conduct research and advise the government on low-carbon manufacturing and transportation;
  • developing and implementing a strategy to increase the use of soils management practices in agriculture that will reduce GHG emissions and improve carbon sequestration; and
  • publishing a guide that will describe approaches for including treatment of climate change in environmental assessments conducted under the Environmental Assessment Act

While the province’s cap and trade program will clearly be the cornerstone in the province’s overall climate change regime, the plan will provide complementary supports funded largely by anticipated revenues from cap and trade.

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