Liberal leadership candidate Bonnie Crombie wants Ontario's public sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2040, and for the whole province to hit that target a decade later.
She's promising to get Ontario to that point as part of her plan to tackle climate change if she makes it to the premier's seat.
Crombie's climate plan, which The Trillium received an advance copy of, says she'd work with other levels of government and businesses for a "whole-of-government approach to transform Ontario into a net-zero emissions province."
This goal aligns with the federal government's plan to hit net-zero emissions by 2050. The feds describe net-zero emissions as the "economy either emits no greenhouse gas emissions or offsets its emissions, for example, through actions such as tree planting or employing technologies that can capture carbon before it is released into the air."
The federal government's goal in the interim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Ontario’s current target is to cut emissions by 30 per cent in that same timeline.
In trying to reach any of its goals of net-zero emissions, Crombie's plan highlighted affordability and avoiding "placing a disproportionate financial burden on vulnerable communities."
Overall, Crombie's plan has 13 areas of focus for climate-related action. Some of these include:
- transforming the province's electricity grid by "expediting the integration of clean, renewable, and cost-effective energy sources"
protecting the Greenbelt and 30 per cent or more of Ontario's nature and biodiversity
empowering conservation authorities
supporting "zero-emission driving in partnership with the other orders of government and the private sector"
helping Ontarians save on utility bills and having emissions-free homes
supporting "alternative low-carbon fuels and advance industrial decarbonization"
reducing "waste and support a circular economy together with producers, consumers, and federal and municipal partners
creating "good clean, local jobs, and investments" and ensuring there are people to fill those jobs through education and skills training
investing "in energy storage, and carbon capture and utilization technologies
building new and support existing public transit across the province
supporting" industrial decarbonization while maintaining the competitiveness of Ontario businesses"
protecting farmlands and boosting food security
“Climate change is an existential threat that demands decisive action today. For decades, Ontario Liberals took leadership to reduce carbon emissions, protect nature and prime agricultural land, incentivize clean energy development, and grow green jobs and investments. As Liberals we are incredibly proud of this legacy and it must be a central part of every decision we make for the future,” said Crombie in a statement.
“Under my leadership, Ontario Liberals will prioritize environmental protection, resilience, clean growth and immediate carbon-emissions reductions. By decarbonizing and creating green jobs, we'll make Ontario a climate leader, grow a resilient economy and protect our cherished natural landscapes,” she said.
On zero-emission driving, Crombie promised to get more electric vehicle charging stations out across Ontario and offered support for the federal government's goal of having all passenger vehicles sold in Canada be electric by 2035.
Crombie also said she would "reinstate incentives on the purchase or lease of a non-luxury electric vehicle and installation of an EV-charging station."
The Doug Ford government cancelled the rebate program for electric vehicles that was brought in under former premier Kathleen Wynne. It has since focused on EV manufacturing and the production of EV battery parts in the province.
For homeowners, Crombie said she'd match incentives from the federal government's Canada Greener Homes Initiative to allow Ontarians to "make energy improvements, such as installing geothermal heat pumps, to make their homes energy efficient, climate resilient, and lower their electricity and home heating bills."
She's proposing tax credits and rebates to help condo boards, owners of purpose-built rental housing and others to made their buildings more energy efficient.
Crombie said she'd also update the Ontario Building Code to "improve climate resilience of buildings in our communities to provide residents with comfort, affordable operating costs, and protection from extreme heat, flood and air-quality risks."
Part of her plan also includes protecting prime agricultural land, which she has previously said would include the creation of a "food and water belt." Crombie said this would help boost local produce, ensure food security and reduce emissions from shipping goods from afar.