The Ontario government's climate change plan will see more than $7-billion spent over four years. Here's how the spending breaks down:
Retrofitting buildings and kicking natural gas
- The Climate Change Action Plan contains several incentive programs, targeted at different types of buildings, to pay for energy retrofits and installing various technologies – including geothermal, solar power, heat pumps and more efficient boilers – to get rid of or cut back on natural gas. These include: a $554-million fund to offer rebates and grants to homeowners; $500-million for energy retrofits in social-housing towers; $400-million for schools, hospitals and universities; $350-million for condominiums, apartments and office blocks; and $80-million for heritage buildings.
- $200-million to incentivize people to buy energy efficient new homes, through a rebate up to $20,000 for buyers of houses that don’t use natural gas heating.
- $1.32-billion to start phasing out natural gas heating in homes and replacing it with electric heat, and potentially expand the “low-carbon” electricity supply to back-stop the new heat pumps and electric vehicles. The province will also offset the increased cost of electricity to consumers.
- Building code changes that would ensure all “new homes and small buildings” built in 2030 or later do not use fossil fuels, such as natural gas, for heat or cooling; by 2050, this requirement would apply to all buildings. The building code will also be changed to require all major renovations improve energy efficiency, such as by using better insulation. Municipalities will also be allowed to impose even tougher energy efficiency standards than those contained in the building code.
- $100-million for a “renewable content requirement” for natural gas, which means some percentage of gas will have to come from agricultural or waste products. There will also be new product efficiency standards for some products, such as home appliances, to ensure they use less electricity, and similar standards for municipal water treatment equipment.
- $250-million to pay for mandatory energy efficiency audits for every single-family home sold in the province. The idea is to incentivize homeowners to do retrofits to increase the value of their house. Commercial buildings, apartment buildings and condos will also have to report their energy use and a Green Button program will provide people with information on their electricity, natural gas and water use so they can better control it.
- $70-million to help universities, colleges and other organizations provide training for builders and engineers to construct low-carbon buildings.
Pedal to the metal for electric cars
- $285-million in incentives for drivers to go electric. These include rebates up to $14,000 on the price of an electric vehicle; $1,000 rebate for installing a home charging station; removing the provincial portion of the HST from electric vehicle purchases; and free overnight charging for electric vehicles. Also, low– and moderate-income households with a vehicle at least 12 years old will be eligible for additional subsidies to trade them in for an electric.
- The government will install more fast charging stations, particularly at workplaces and parking lots of government buildings such as GO stations, LCBOs and Service Ontario outlets. The province will also work with New York State to build a “Lake Ontario Electric Loop,” with charging spots in Toronto, Kingston, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
- Government will change the rules for current condo and apartment buildings to make it simpler to put in charging stations, and consider rewriting the building code to make electric vehicle plug-ins mandatory on new buildings.
- More electric vehicle targets: On top of the goal of getting an electric car into every multivehicle driveway by 2024 (a total of 1.7 million electric and hybrid vehicles), the province will also look to get 5 per cent of sales electric by 2020 and at least 12 per cent by 2025 (representing about 80,000 electric cars annually).
Riding the train and riding your bike
- $354-million will go toward the province’s multibillion-dollar plan to electrify the GO regional rail network and increase service.
- $200-million for building more bike lanes and paths, installing bike parking facilities at GO stations and other provincial buildings. The plan says provincial road and highway regulations will be rewritten to make sure that bike lanes “are considered for all new roads and highways where safe and feasible.”
Greener gas and freight
- By 2020, all gasoline and other liquid transportation fuels in the province will have to show a 5 per cent drop in greenhouse gas emissions over their life cycle. This could, for example, involve blending in more ethanol or other substances; or it could involve cutting emissions used in the production and transportation of fuel – making a refinery more energy-efficient, for instance. The plan will also offer incentives to fuel retailers to start selling “high-blend sustainable biofuels,” such as 50 per cent biodiesel or 85 per cent ethanol.
- $280-million to help trucking companies and school boards switch to lower-carbon vehicles. This will include building liquid natural gas fuelling stations and offering incentives for schools to buy electric buses. There will also be rebates for companies to buy aerodynamic devices and anti-idling devices.
- $20-million to help the province’s short-line freight railways, which burn less carbon than hauling by truck.
Planning the cities of the future
- The province will change planning laws to encourage denser and less car-dependent developments. For instance, the government may stop municipalities from setting minimum parking requirements in zoning and, instead, encourage bike lanes and wider sidewalks.
- $165-million for a “challenge fund” that would provide matching funds for municipally run projects that cut carbon emissions.
- $20-million to put more bus-only lanes on provincial highways and fund congestion-management plans by municipalities.
- $930-million for “industrial plants,” such as factories, to become more energy-efficient.
- $145-million for businesses and industry to take part in clean energy projects.
- $115-million for agrifood businesses to cut emissions.
Research and development
- $235-million for research and development of low-carbon technologies.
- $140-million for a Global Centre for Low-Carbon Mobility, based at a college or university, that would develop technology for lower-carbon cars and trucks.
- $174-million to make the government carbon neutral. At first, this will entail buying carbon offsets; over time, it will mean cutting the government’s emissions, with a target of getting 50 per cent below 2006 levels by 2030. This will entail some civil servants working at home, retrofits and other energy efficiency measures in government buildings, and buying more low-carbon products.
- $91-million to connect First Nations communities to the electricity grid.
- $30-million for recycling and composting programs to divert waste away from garbage dumps.
- $5-million for figuring out how natural lands sequester carbon.
- $30-million for carbon storage programs in agriculture.