Toronto – A new report says Ontario’s first year of carbon pricing went well but more work is needed if the province wants to meet its long-term goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The report by Ontario’s environmental commissioner says the government needs a better plan for spending the funds brought in by the cap-and-trade system, which amounted to close to $2 billion last year.
It also says some government ministries need to make more of an effort to consider climate change in their decision-making and spending.
The cap-and-trade system, which was launched last year, aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions by putting caps on the amount of pollution companies in certain industries can emit.
If they exceed those limits they must buy allowances at quarterly auctions or from other companies that come in under their limits.
The cap declines about 4% each year to 2020 and then roughly 2.9% each year afterwards to 2030.
The province’s goal is for greenhouse gas emissions to drop to 15% below what they were in 1990 by 2020 and to 37% below the 1990 level by 2030.
“I would expect that, from a compliance point of view, Ontario will be able to meet the 2020 target because it includes the availability to use offsets and buy allowances from outside Ontario,” said environmental commissioner Dianne Saxe.
“It’s much more challenging moving forward from 2020 to 2030,” she said. “We now know what the maximum number of allowances will be each year but we don’t know how the province intends to get there. So that’s one of the reasons why I’ve recommended a specific carbon budget for each ministry and each sector.”
Ontario’s environment minister, Chris Ballard, said the government is proud of its record on climate change but recognizes “there is a lot of work ahead.” He said the province will take the report and its findings under consideration.
The Canadian Press