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Environmental watchdog says Ontario backing away from climate change commitments

Claims government will fall short of 2020, 2050 greenhouse gas emission reduction targets


TORONTO—Ontario’s environmental watchdog says the Liberal government is backing away from its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller says the government is ending or scaling back programs to fight greenhouse gas emissions, and will fall short of meeting its targets for 2020 and 2050.

Miller says the Liberals cut funding for programs to buy electric vehicles and develop charging stations, and delayed construction of 31 kilometres of HOV lanes because of shrinking revenues.

He gives the government high marks for phasing out coal-fired electricity generation, but says the associated increase in the use of natural gas means it has surpassed coal as the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector.

Miller also singles out the transportation sector as a special concern, saying it is the largest source of the unwanted emissions.

“Clearly the Ontario government’s commitment to responding to GHG emissions and climate change has become questionable,” Miller told reporters.

“While the coal phase-out is a worth accomplishment, it is now past performance and no new initiatives to garner such measurable benefits or reductions are being advanced.”

Miller’s annual report on climate change also takes the Liberals to task for “a complete lack of engagement around the question of carbon pricing,” and urges action.

“Other jurisdictions are demonstrating that carbon pricing can be adopted without hurting economic growth, while delivering the benefit of lowered GHG emissions,” he said.

“Decisive action on carbon pricing could reboot the program and provide a rate and elusive win-win-win for the government, economy and the environment.”

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