Ont. Liberals won’t confirm Climate Change Action Plan details

Report suggests government would spend $3.8 billion on grants, rebates and subsidies to retrofit buildings.

TORONTO — Ontario’s environment minister insists the province won’t eliminate natural gas for home heating as part of a soon-to-be-released plan to fight climate change.

Glen Murray refused to confirm or deny a Globe and Mail report saying the province would spend $7 billion over four years to reduce its carbon footprint, partly by phasing out natural gas and greatly increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road.

“Within the next couple of weeks you’ll see the entire action plan, supporting documents will be properly released,” Murray told reporters.

The province’s goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 15% below 1990 levels by 2020, 37% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

The Globe said it obtained a copy of the Climate Change Action Plan that calls on the province to phase out natural gas for heating, which is currently used in 76 per cent of Ontario homes.

It said the government would spend $3.8 billion on grants, rebates and subsidies to retrofit buildings and move them off natural gas and onto geothermal, solar or other forms of energy. The plan would require that all new homes built in Ontario in 2030 or later be heated without the use of fossil fuels.

But this year’s budget committed the government to extending natural gas to rural Ontario, and Murray insisted it would still be an option for home heating.

“Natural gas will continue to play a critical role in the energy mix in Ontario in the future, and beyond that you’ll have to wait to see the details,” he said.

“But no, we’re not banning natural gas or taking it away from people.”

Union Gas and Enbridge Gas, the two largest suppliers of natural gas in Ontario, expressed concern the province is considering phasing out natural gas for heating.

“It’s not something we were aware they were contemplating, and that is not something we would support,” Union spokeswoman Andrea Stass said in an interview.

“To mandate natural gas out of existence will be very disruptive and expensive for consumers, and the other side of that is moving to an energy system with only one source and no diversification is risky.”

Enbridge warned phasing out natural gas for heating would be expensive.

“Converting a home from natural gas to electricity would cost about $4,500, and the heating costs would triple, increasing by roughly $2,000 each year,” Enbridge said in a release.

Richard Carlson, a senior energy policy associate at Mowat Energy, funded by Enbridge Gas, Union Gas, the Independent Electricity System Operator and Toronto Hydro as part of the Mowat Centre think tank, said having one government agency in charge of the climate change plan would be beneficial.

The Ontario Energy Board held hearings last week about extending natural gas to rural communities, noted Carlson.

“So the Ontario Energy Board is looking to expand the gas grid while the draft (climate change) plan says something different,” he said.

Murray dismissed suggestions there would be uncertainty in the province’s industrial sectors until details of the climate change action plan are released.

“They have been working with us, the nine large emitting industries, in drafting this plan, so they had a major input into it and they do have a pretty good understanding of what’s coming,” he said.

The Globe said the Liberal plan sets a target of having 12% of all new vehicle sales be electric cars and trucks by 2025, or about 1.7 million vehicles. There are currently only about 5,800 electric vehicles in Ontario.

The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association said forcing people to switch to electric cars is not the way to go.

“The key to advancing electric vehicles is actually creating demand and helping consumers actually want to have these vehicles,” said association president Mark Nantais.

“The infrastructure has to be in place. The recharging infrastructure must lead the introduction of vehicles, so that consumers have that confidence.”

The Progressive Conservatives said the climate change plan represents a “crushing shift” for Ontario’s $16-billion auto industry, and warned it would cost jobs.

The province already provides rebates up to $14,000 for every electric vehicle purchased under $75,000, and up to $3,000 for ones priced between $75,000 and $150,000. The government recently announced it will spend $20 million to build nearly 500 electric vehicle charging stations across the province next year.

The $7 billion the Liberals plan to spend to on climate change would come from the estimated $1.9 billion they expect to generate each year from a cap-and-trade plan that would see companies buy and trade pollution emission allowances.

The government admits its cap-and-trade plan would add about four cents a litre to the price of gasoline, but insisted it would result in lower home heating bills.

Ontario plans to join existing cap-and-trade markets in Quebec and California. Manitoba has also signed on to join in the plan with Ontario and Quebec, but will limit it to 20 large polluters in the province.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016
7 Comments » for Ont. Liberals won’t confirm Climate Change Action Plan details
  1. Erika Conn says:

    She’s crazy and is behaving like a dictator. Maybe she forgot who got her in. Maybe she forgot it’s the people’s will she must respect – and I don’t mean her little clique of eco-no-it-alls.
    Get her out before she does more harm. I am so sick of hearing about carbon footprints – or any footprints, for that matter. It’s time to talk dollars and sense. Yes, I mean sense.

  2. Kent says:

    Electric heat and electric vehicles becoming virtually mandatory? Wholly dependant on the price of electricity to make them feasible to operate?
    Sounds like another opportunity to grab even more money from the ever-shrinking public pocket…..
    I will NOT be buying into ANY of this nonsense until I see solid proof that every single member of the Liberal government is driving an electric vehicle – and paying for their own electricity out of their own pocket, not mine.

  3. Randy says:

    When it comes to honesty Glen Murry couldn’t distiguish the truth if it hit him in the face. Yes he is banning natural gas. Not in terms of an out right ban however, he’ll tax the hell out it to make it unafordable. Electricity is by far the least efficient when it comes to heating. With Ontario already paying $37 billion more than they should for electricity expect this number to climb leaps and bounds as this corrupt government continues to pay their friends royally for a product they’re giving away to Americans. Must be nice to aford subsidizies to a wealthy country free with no return. Wynn and her band of thieves are laughing all the way to the bank. Thank your government unions for a government that is literally stealing from you on a daily basis.

  4. Meme Mine69 says:

    If it’s too late to save the planet from climate change then why won’t the climate change scientists say it’s as real as smoking causing cancer?
    Were they also only 99% sure the planet wasn’t flat?

    Government mandated emission laws since the 1960’s have made Smog Warning Days rare for decades in most of N. America and we are living longer now than at any time in human history as a species. It’s called environmental success? And now fracking’s abundance is ending the oil wars with possible world peace and giving us reliable fossil fuel energy for countless generations to come. Wind and solar are nothing more than Y2K jokes and buggy whips in our children’s history books.
    Life is good. Be happy.

    This is the best time in history to be alive.

  5. matt says:

    I feel sorry for Wyne – she is trying to fix a mcguinty mcmess – problem is she believes she can tax everyone to bring in the money – but our province is hemoraging as we loose more & more good jobs and they are replaced with min wage jobs. The prov govt is seeing this in personal income tax revenues but are reluctant to admit it. Instead she should focus completely on retaining large business – maybe reduce business taxes to bring employers here – it will take some time to fix but will create lasting jobs and govt income rather than a quick tax grab fix – that is going to fail. Wyne – your smarter than this – lets see you really lead the province.

  6. Roger Marsh says:

    I have never, ever voted Liberal. The basic tenants are fatally flawed. All we are seeing is the natural outcome of humanistic philosophy and ‘bandwagon’ policies. Natural gas is clean burning and dependable. To think that electric power is cleaner is insane. How many wind turbines are sitting idle because of low frequency noise issues? How many water courses will be dammed up? Solar farms? Dream on – this is not a sunny country. What needs to be done is invest in reforestation. A young tree sucks up about 26 lbs of CO2 a day and converts it to oxygen. With the loss of Brazil’s rain forest at an alarming rate has come significant weather pattern changes.

  7. Carole Rier says:

    I would like to know who authorized the hydro line to be built that stopped at Indian lands and the consumer is paying the bill. Then they want to have 4 cents more tax on our gas. I didn’t vote for this gov’t and it should be thrown out of office. Wind power is too expensive. There should be a freeze on all gov’t spending including wages & pensions until we get our deficit under control. Unions don’t want to bit the bullet, but most of us don’t belong to one and in industry we have to bit the bullet if we want our jobs. It is time for everyone to wake up and start demanding the Ontario gov’t do a better job of managing our money.

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