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Ontario Records Big Emissions Spike After Axing Cap and Trade

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The national greenhouse gas inventory report [1] that Canada filed with the United Nations last week showed a big increase in Ontario, after several years of steady decline, Toronto-based Environmental Defence reported in a blog post earlier this week.

With only 40% of the population, the province accounted for two-thirds of Canada’s 15-megatonne increase between 2017 and 2018, notes Sarah Buchanan, the organization’s program manager, clean economy. The 10-megatonne jump offset one-third of the carbon savings Ontario achieved by phasing out coal-fired electricity, and those reductions took more than a decade to accumulate.

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“It’s not a total coincidence that 2018 is the year that Premier Ford was elected, and immediately slashed cap and trade [3], along with the billions of dollars per year it brought in funding for programs to cut GHG emissions [4]. But the spike seems too big to be the result of six months of cancelled programs,” Buchanan writes.

“When I dove deeper into the data, the increases across many sectors were more than expected. Buildings (specifically, heating them), transportation, electricity, and industrial processes (which would have been regulated by cap and trade) all increased enough to warrant attention.”

Buchanan says “weather, consumer preferences for bigger vehicles like SUVs, and economic growth caused emissions to rise in 2018 in Ontario,” faster than they would have if the province’s successful cap and trade program had still been in effect. Overall, buildings accounted for nearly half of the emissions increase, transport for nearly one-quarter, and electricity for about 19%.

If the Ford government hadn’t cut the funding made possible by cap and trade, the province’s previous energy efficiency and renewable energy programs “would have helped more people install smart thermostats or energy efficient furnaces to reduce heating fuel use,” she writes. “More cities would have retrofitted public housing buildings, or added electric buses to their fleets. More hospitals and schools would have cut fossil fuel consumption through planned retrofits. More people would have switched their gas cars to electric. More renewable energy would have been added to our electricity grid. These climate actions were all axed, and Ontario missed its chance to flatten the spike from a high-demand year.”

Buchanan has the sector-by-sector details of where the increases happened.

Until 2018, “Ontario was on a trajectory of seeing the economy grow while GHG emissions dropped— a big goal of many jurisdictions trying to fight climate change,” she concludes. Now, “Ontario’s GHG emissions spike can teach us a valuable lesson. To avoid being at the mercy of weather, gas prices, and consumption patterns, governments need to take action to make sure Ontario’s economic growth isn’t dependent on increasing carbon pollution.”

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1 Comment To "Ontario Records Big Emissions Spike After Axing Cap and Trade"

#1 Comment By Steve Aplin On April 27, 2020 @ 9:39 PM

the biggest increase was residential heating, and two things were the cause of that: (1) the super cold winter, and (2) the ridiculous retail price spread between a kilowatt-hour of Ontario electricity, which according to the same NIR came with 29 grams of CO2 on average and a kWh of “high efficiency” natural gas, which comes with at least 200 grams.

The spread is more than 19 cents, with electricity obviously more expensive, even when you put the carbon tax on gas. And guess what — Environmental Defence lobbied hard to make electricity more expensive by shoehorning hugely expensive and totally superfluous wind and solar into the grid, after nuclear had replaced coal. That lobbying ensured and prolonged gas’s incumbency in heating. BTW, gas is a fossil fuel.

So it’s pretty amusing to hear ED whining about Doug Ford getting us out of the cap and trade scam, which pays for greenwash like the Moss Landing Tesla battery in California, and blaming him for something that’s actually on them.