Ontario Environmental Commissioner looks for long-term emission reductions in challenging times
According to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), now is no time to shirk the province's commitment to managing climate change goals. And the reductions met by the province must be understood as permanent or transitory (based on economic conditions).
"It is critical that, in these challenging economic times, we refuse to compromise on our commitments to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction," said ECO Gord Miller on December 10th, upon the release of his Special Report to the Legislature, Progress in a Climate of Change. The report provides an independent review of the government’s recently tabled Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan: Creating our Sustainable Future, Annual Report 2007-2008 (the "December 2008 Action Plan Report"). This document outlines the steps the government has put in place to deliver on the Government of Ontario’s Go Green Action Plan On Climate Change, announced in August 2007.
"I am pleased with the efforts the government is making in charting a transparent course to ensure Ontario will reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions," continued Miller. "In the future, when evaluating the Ontario government’s progress, there will be two items on the report card. (1) Can they meet the original target of six per cent reduction below 1990 levels by 2014? (2) Will their initiatives to reduce GHG emissions be successful?"
The ECO notes that the original August 2007 Action Plan was based on earlier models which do not reflect the recent economic downturn. Therefore, future GHG emission reductions may be attributable to a decline in economic activity, rather than the success of government initiatives.
"It will be important for the government to clarify the extent to which these reductions are permanent or only transitory," states the ECO report. "If the economic contraction results in a further lowering of emissions, then the suite of measures contained in the 2008 Action Plan Report should be additive to produce even lower actual GHG emissions in 2014."
"The challenge for all of us is to ensure that we have the correct systems in place to measure how well we are progressing towards our goals of reducing GHG emissions, fostering a greener economy and protecting the environment," said Miller. He expressed surprise that the 2008 Action Plan Report contains no numbers on reductions to date. "I look forward to numbers and detailed information on methodology before next year’s Action Plan is finalized."
For further information, visit www.eco.on.ca.