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The Ontario government has released its Climate Change Update 2014 to coincide with Climate Week that was held in New York City from September 21-28. Climate Week involved mass gatherings to demonstrate the public demand for action on climate change, as well as roundtables highlighting the latest strategies to reduce our carbon footprint, all leading up to the United Nations Climate Summit held September 23. The purpose of the summit was to gather public leaders to catalyze action on the ground and to create political will and momentum for further action leading up to the next U.N. conference on climate change to be held in Paris in 2015. The goal for Paris 2015 is a global agreement that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature.

We are proud that Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray, attended Climate Week to show Ontario’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases. The Premier has given Mr. Murray a direct mandate to move forward on climate change action by working to meet certain targets for greenhouse gases by 2020 and 2050. Ontario has already taken giant strides by closing its coal fired power plants.

The province’s Climate Change Update 2014 indicates that, unlike the federal government, Ontario is measuring its greenhouse gas reductions according to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, which use 1990 as the base year for setting targets. In 1990, Ontario greenhouse gas emissions were 177 megatonnes (Mt). In 2012, according to the federal government’s latest National Inventory Report, emissions in Ontario were down to 167 Mt or 5.9% below 1990 levels. Ontario should be very proud of this accomplishment which is largely due to the fact that as of April 2014, Ontario no longer uses coal to generate electricity. The province’s Climate Change Update 2014 report also indicates that Ontario’s targets for 2020 are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 15% below 1990 levels, and for 2050 to achieve emissions that are 80% below 1990 levels. These are very aggressive goals and we look forward to and support the province in this critically important policy endeavor.

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