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Premier Wynne shows what female leadership can do for climate

This week has been a whirlwind for the provincial government. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s is in Mexico City to discuss environmental and international relations, all the while promoting women within these industries.

The premier made the trek down south to discuss the importance of climate change and the economy with Mexican leaders, exporters, and potential investors and to host the first-ever Women in Leadership Climate Change Panel Discussion. The participants of this panel discussed the role that women can play in the economic transition to a low-carbon economy and explored the unique experiences of the Indigenous people in the fight against climate change.

Several other prominent women leaders were present as well, including the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate, Her Excellency, Patricia Espinosa. Espinosa was elected executive secretary in May 2016 at the Paris Climate Change Conference. She is originally from Mexico and has worked in foreign affairs between the Americas for several years. Espinosa was joined on the panel by Tanya Muller Garcia, the Minister of the Environment of Mexico City. Garcia actively promoted cycling programs throughout Mexico City and played a large part in integrating the region’s transit system.

Wynne has had a large impact on the climate change agenda in Ontario, most recently with her adoption of cap and trade in Ontario. Part of her agenda in Mexico is to promote an open trade relationship with Mexico City, who has recently adopted a pilot project cap and trade program themselves. An interworking relationship of cap and trade with Mexico would have a significant economic impact on Ontario’s new climate change incentive, and would integrate will with the programs in California and Quebec. Recently, cap and trade has come under fire because Quebec and California have failed to sell all of their emissions, leaving both governments in debt. Many worry Ontario will suffer the same fate.

The climate change conference is a good opportunity for Wynne to show that Ontario is not concerned with the xenophobic agenda that Trump followers and the US is currently leading towards, and is instead open to creating trade partnerships involving climate change. It is inspiring to see a representative of the Canadian political fabric represent women interests, tackling environmental concerns, and promoting healthy international trade relations in the midst of struggling global unity.

It is easy to see this week as a win for Wynne.

 

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The top 5 most sustainable cities in the world

What does it mean to live in the most sustainable city in the world?

Imagine living in a place that has an urban planning agenda that focuses on the environment while maintaining prosperous development and has a booming economy. This type of city places health as a top priority, and offers recreation activities and high-level education.

To be sustainable means to only use as much as can be naturally replaced in order to sustain and maintain this place all people call home. Existing within our means in large cities can have an incredible impact on the planet, and every city needs to make sustainability a priority. Frankfurt is leading the way as the most sustainable city in the world, according to the Sustainable Cities Index. This internationally-recognized index analyzes three key factors when looking at each city: people, planet, and profit. The first measurement tool, people, includes the quality of life for citizens of that particular region, which includes factors like education, green spaces, and health. Focusing on environmental initiatives, planet measures energy emissions, pollution, renewable energy, air pollution and solid waste management. The profit of a city is measured by how well the business economy is doing as well as its economic performance, which is calculated by using GDP and the cost of doing business.

Here are the top five most sustainable cities in the world:

Frankfurt, Germany.
Frankfurt, Germany.
  1. Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt was listed as the most sustainable city in the world because of its dedication to sustainability and helping the environment. “Green City Frankfurt”, as it is popularly dubbed, has its own energy agency and is the founding member of the Climate Alliance of European Cities created in 1990. The city has committed to lowering CO2 emissions by 10 per cent every five years with a 50 per cent cut by 2050. Currently, the city has lowered CO2 emissions by 15 per cent since 1990, while still growing its economic power 50 per cent. Frankfurt is also home to Germany’s largest city forest and is surrounded by a Greenbelt.

London, England. By Jim Trodel.
London, England. By Jim Trodel.
  1. London, England

London falls into second place with high scores on the people and profit measures because of a strong healthcare system and highly-ranked education facilities. The British city is also an international economic center and is the best connected global city alongside New York. The current mayor of London has launched a 2020 vision to make London “the Greatest City on Earth” to become the best city for work, living, investing and doing business. The mayor also set a target to lower carbon emissions by 65 per cent by 2025 from 1990 levels. London isn’t a leader in environmental initiatives, but is still a sustainable city when it comes to its strong economy and high quality of life.

Copenhagen, Denmark.
Copenhagen, Denmark.
  1. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen city council has created a climate change plan, similar to Frankfurt and is going a step further by preparing for the future effects of climate change now. The city is developing a plan to catch all of the rainwater in the city because of the lowering precipitation that is expected from climate change. Copenhagen also has green roofs, living walls, and pavements that allow water to percolate through. The quality of living is reportedly high in Copenhagen and the city is booming.

Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  1. Amsterdam, Netherlands

In Amsterdam, the city takes a leading global role in creating green business. Many enterprises in Amsterdam are creating green products that are being sold worldwide and is also invested in creating highly sustainable buildings in their downtown core. Amsterdam boasts an electric transportation system and is dedicated to using sustainable electricity. It has a goal that by 2020, 92,000 households will be using renewable energy. Amsterdam scored high in all three categories, making it the most balanced city in the world.

Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Rotterdam, Netherlands.
  1. Rotterdam, Netherlands

Rotterdam has the highest quality of life for its people out of any city in the world because of its high literacy rate and good work-life balance. The city has also launched green programs, but scores lower in these categories than other cities. The Rotterdam Sustainability Programme is a plan that wants to make a clean and green city, and reduce carbon emissions in half. Rotterdam also claims the world’s largest carbon capture program known as the Rotterdam Capture and Storage Demonstration Project (ROAD) that will be stored in an empty gas reservoir in the North Sea. The government committed to spending $31 million towards the green program.

Sustainability is the way of the future if we want to save our planet. Many cities are taking initiative and Europe is definitely leading the way. In October, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) will bring together cities across the world to discuss how to reach a sustainable standard similar to Frankfurt or London. Toronto is ranked at number 12, and if the city attends Habitat III and adopts new strategies of more sustainable cities, the “six” could climb into the top ten.

In the midst of global distrust due to isolated acts of terrorism in Europe and other parts of the world, Habitat III will be an opportunity for cities to unite and work together towards creating a sustainable and healthy world. I look forward to seeing which concepts and ideas are adopted in Canadian cities and to see positive impacts of global communication for a change.

 

Hon. Minister Glen Murray deserves the spotlight

It seems like every week a new headline relating to climate change is gracing the front pages of the news.  Whether it’s the unruly weather or the destruction of a natural habitat, it seems like climate change is on everyone’s mind.

The Ontario government has made a number of promises to invest in green retrofits, electric vehicles, and renewable energy, and for that, Women’s Post salutes them. It’s impossible not to see the negative effects climate change is having on this planet, and it’s time for Canada, especially Ontario, to take action.

But all of these changes would not be possible without the leadership of one man — the Honourable Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray.

Minister Murray is enthusiastic, driven, and level-headed — something all politicians can’t claim. His extensive political career began in Winnipeg, where he acted as city councillor before becoming Mayor in 1998. It’s worth mentioning that he was the first openly-gay mayor of a large city in North America, which was a big deal at the time.

After moving to Toronto in 2010, he was elected into the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Since then, he has held the position of Minister of Research and Innovation, Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, Minister of Transportation, Minister of Infrastructure, and finally Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Minister Murray has thrived in each of these positions and has incorporated the sustainable practices he has learnt throughout his political career to push through impressive legislation. The minister was instrumental in the creation and adoption of the cap-and-trade regulations that passed through the legislature in mid-May. The policy will place a cap on carbon emissions and allow companies to sell or trade unused credits for profit. This will ultimately reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emitted from high-polluting industries. The government will be auctioning off a number of credits to companies that may have a hard time adjusting to the cap. In 2017, emission allowances are 142,332,000 tones, which will decrease over four years to 124,668,000 in 2020.

The program will take effect on July 1.

“Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing humanity today,” Murray said after the cap-and-trade policy was revealed. “Ontario is doing its part to reduce harmful greenhouse gas pollution by putting in place a cap and trade program to limit emissions and invest in the kind of innovative solutions that will give our kids and grandkids the sustainable and prosperous legacy they deserve.”

Through the cap-and-trade regulations, Minister Murray has ensured $1.9 billion in additional revenue for the provincial government. This funding will be used to support future green initiatives.

In the next few weeks Murray will unveil the provincial government’s ultimate climate change plan, which promises to help Ontario households and businesses adopt low- and no-carbon energy in homes and the workplace. It also puts an emphasis on incentives for electric vehicles and charging stations. The climate change strategy is said to cost an average household about $13 a month, but is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

And these are only a few of Minister Glen Murray’s accomplishments, just from the past year!

Later this month, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is expected to do a major cabinet shuffle — and all Women’s Post can do is hope that Minister Murray is given the opportunity to expand on his vision. He has spearheaded a number of environmentally friendly and revenue building policies over the last year. What is needed now is the strength, determination, and tenacity to implement them — and Minister Murray has that in spades.

If Ontario wants to prove that it is serious about fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse emissions, Minister Murray has proven his ability to steer this through. The political arena doesn’t support a rising star and we can only hope his cabinet supports him to carry out his role as Minister of the Environment and Climate Change. His consistent hard work, determination, and refusal to back down under pressure from private industries makes him the ideal candidate for the position.

Nature’s roar: the crisis of climate refugees

The reality of climate change refugees once seemed like a distant threat that plagued small villages in far-away places, but with the recent wild fires that forced 80,000 people to flee Fort McMurray, the dangers of climate change have arrived at our front doors.

Climate change is having a variety of effects on the planet, including floods, wild fires, droughts and extreme storms. It has become a forefront topic of discussion because of the dangers this environmental phenomenon poses for civilization. Quite literally, nature is at war with us. Though discussion surrounding the reasons and potential effects of climate change are increasingly relevant, more of an emphasis is necessary surrounding climate refugees.

A climate refugee,  as defined by the Global Governance Project 2012, is an “environmental migrant forced to move due to sudden or gradual alterations in the natural environment related to at least one of three impacts of climate change; sea-level rise, extreme weather events, and drought and water scarcity.” The impacts of climate change are causing refugees in the present, and it will only get worse if current temperatures continue to rise. The World Bank estimates that by 2050, 1.3 billion people will be at risk because of climate change related disasters.

In 2015 and 2016 alone, there were 19 million people displaced due to climate change. There was a severe migrant crisis in Syria influenced by war and drought, an earthquake in Nepal followed by an avalanche at Mt. Everest, drought in Ethiopia, floods in South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Mozambique, and a heat wave in Southern India. Wild fires plagued the west last summer and earlier in May 2016, forced the entire city of Fort McMurray to evacuate.

Many climate refugees try to remain in their own country, and in the case of the residents of Fort McMurray, Canada has enough resources to help its displaced people. In other countries though, climate-induced disasters can be catastrophic because there is a lack of assets available to help distressed populations. Arguably, the Syrian crisis is the most prevalent example to date of the fate that awaits climate refugees. When a country is plagued with drought, a lack of resources, and an unaccommodating government, it is a recipe for war. The mass migration of Syrians to safer northern countries represents the beginning of a series of massive moves from southern regions to colder, northern climates.

report on the extreme temperatures in the Middle East and North Africa was released in April 2016 that shows how the projected two-degree rise as a result of climate change by 2050 may actually be higher in the Middle East. With the current increase in temperature in the region, which includes 29 countries, the average summer temperature may rise to 50 degrees by 2050 and will become unliveable. If this occurs, people will be forced to move to other regions in the world, and compete for water and food resources. A strain on natural resources and the global economy will most likely follow.

We need to change. All of us are responsible to our planet, and we are looking at a global shift so extreme it may lead to our own extinction. Even as an environmentalist, I am at fault as well. Seeing various Facebook posts, tweets, and articles pop up that blame the oil industry for the fires in Fort McMurray, it isn’t justified. We all use the products that these natural companies produce whether or not we want to admit it. Making the world miners vs. environmentalists, west vs. east, and rich vs. poor is not going to help curb climate change. The blame game is a waste of time.

Instead, we need legislation to protect climate refugees. We need mandatory, international rights that ban countries from building fences to keep people out, and prevent people from being forced to walk from border to border with nowhere to go. On a global level, climate contracts like the  2015 Paris Agreement needs to address migrants as a central concern, instead of simply assigning a task force to the “discuss the issue”.  Most importantly, we need to drop the us vs. them philosophy and unite together the way Canadians recently did in the Fort McMurray crisis.

On another level, we need to change our focus on resource consumption. Food, water, and natural resources need to be considered as valuable assets that should be shared by all, rather than limitless consumer goods that are solely at the disposable of the rich. If mass climate-caused immigration is imminent, we need to prepare and provide everyone with their equal share. Renewable resources need to be taken seriously, and not just used as dinner table talk for saavy environmental science majors.

Looking at the fire destroying a city in my home province of Alberta, it becomes clear. Nature is angry and she’s fighting back. As people, we are so consumed with arguing between each other that we can’t even hear nature’s roar. The question then becomes: when do we shut up and listen?

Ontario’s cap and trade program is finalized

Ontario has finalized their cap and trade plan, which will place a carbon tax on high-polluting industries that are contributing to climate change. The climate change legislation was passed on Wednesday and emphasizes the importance of accountability and transparency when investing proceeds for the cap and trade into green businesses through the Greenhouse Reduction Account.

The cap and trade program is a part of the bigger Climate Change Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. By placing a “cap” on carbon emissions and allowing companies to sell off or “trade” unused credits for a profit, it will help limit and lower emissions in the province. Ontario joins Quebec and California, which have cap and trade programs in place already.

Ontario is expected to generate $1.8 to $1.9 billion per year to invest in environmental initiatives in the province through emission auctions. The cap and trade program is scheduled to take effect on July 1 2016. Regulations were determined on Wednesday, including greenhouse gas emission caps, compliance regulations, auction and sale of allowances and distribution of allowances.

The Chamber of Commerce urged Premier Kathleen Wynne to delay the cap and trade program for one year. Criticisms result from a lack of transparency as to where the proceeds of the cap and trade program are going. Many industry leaders that will be affected by cap and trade are reportedly confused about the regulations that will be put in place, though it appears they are more concerned about how they will be affected financially. The program is set to continue despite these trepidations.

On a positive note, Manitoba has joined the cap and trade plan with Ontario and Quebec, but will limit their program to the 20 largest polluters in the province. This will help balance industry competition and outsourcing to neighbouring provinces that aren’t forced to participate in cap and trade, which has become a relevant concern of the program.

Ontario will give a four-year exemption to industries that are especially vulnerable to cap and trade, including steel or cement manufacturing. Emission targets were also released in the report, indicating the exact allowances that will decrease annually to allow existing companies to adjust to the new program. In 2017, emission allowances are 142, 332,000 tonnes, which will decrease over four years to 124, 668,000 in 2020.

Though the cap and trade program will be a difficult adjustment initially for companies, it will soon become an integral part of doing business while taking the environment into consideration. This is an opportunity for green businesses to take the lead and for Ontario to set an example for the remaining provinces that cap and trade is the only way to make climate change protocol the foremost item on the agenda.

Power Plant art gallery takes on climate change

I decided to take my daughter down to the waterfront and visit the Power Plant to see their current exhibitions exploring themes of climate change and identity across a changing urban landscape.

The Power Plant Art Gallery (231 Queens Quay West) is located on the Harbourfront and showcases several exhibitions around a variety of themes. Currently, there are four exhibitions in the art gallery ranging from black moths decorating the walls to looping video footage of Hollywood.

DSC_0409

Upon walking into the gallery, Mexico City artist Carlos Amorles’ Black Cloud covers the walls and ceiling. About 30,000 black moths spread across the white landscape created an eerie and fragile image. The moths are symbolic of the transformation of the animal in the post-industrialist world. Prior to industrialism in England, moths were light in colour. When coal factories began creating high levels of pollution, black moths began appearing in the landscape.

The moths are indicative of the transformation of nature and space in a post-industrialist world. From a viewer’s perspective, the moths also look like black mold or an invasive species in the exhibit from afar. This is a subtle, but powerful comment on the effect of industrialization on the world.

The exhibition directly relates to the history of the Power Plant gallery as well. The art space was once an actual power plant for refrigeration and heating equipment for the Toronto Terminal Warehouse and was turned into an art gallery in 1987. It originally housed coal, which makes it a fitting venue for Black Cloud.

DSC_0429

The second exhibit, The Political Nightfall by Aude Moreau, points strongly towards climate change and the development of the urban landscape. This art show focuses on a film reel on a loop, showcasing footage from Los Angeles to the Hollywood studios at night. It was shot from a helicopter and seems to move backwards between large and ominous downtown buildings. The buildings are very dark and it cuts out the light of the rest of the L.A landscape as you get further into the downtown sphere.

The footage reaches the twin buildings of the City National Plaza and spells out in the windows, “THE END.” A score of dark theatrical music plays in the background. The film represented the ever-looming presence of the large buildings that seem to block you from viewing the truth or even life itself. The screen becomes quite dark and instead of showing a scene teeming with life as one expects from a city landscape, it does quite the opposite. The city and its multinational corporations becomes the death of civilization.

Art has the ability to show the truth in subtle and profound ways, as both Amorles and Moreau achieve in their own creative mediums. In both cases, their exploration on climate change is fearful and dark, but it also demonstrates an honest portrayal of the future of humankind if we continue to live in the landscape that ignores the environment.

Cap and trade details released in 2016 budget

For all of the Ontarians that were muddled by the lack of information in the cap and trade proposal, many of those questions have been resolved in the 2016 Ontario budget.

The Ontario Liberal government has released specific details about the cap and trade program, which is set to begin in January 2017 under the new Climate Change Mitigation and Low Carbon Economy Act. The cap and trade program will enforce a “cap” on the amount of greenhouse gases that each company can produce. Companies will be able to then “trade” unused carbon credits by selling them to companies that exceed their “cap”.

This enables companies that use clean energy to create financial gains and penalizes companies that have high levels of carbon emissions. The cap and trade program is expected to raise $428 million in 2016-2017 and is then projected to raise up to $1.8 to $1.9 billion in 2017-2018.  Cap and trade is one of the many initiatives the provincial government has enacted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent below 1990 emissions by 2050.

All of the proceeds from the cap and trade program will go to projects and funds in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account, which will then support other green projects. The Ontario government has promised the money raised will be transparent, with results of the funds available for the public. Possible green projects include public transit, electric vehicle incentives, social housing retrofits including geothermal infrastructure, and clean-technology incentives for industries.

Ontario’s cap and trade program is mandatory for industries and institutions that emit 25,000 tonnes or more of greenhouse gases annually. It also includes suppliers and distributors of fuel that distribute 200 litres of fuel or more per annum. Companies that import electricity and fuels into Ontario would also be included in the cap and trade. The businesses mandatorily included within the program are representative of 83 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions produced in the province.

Initially, Ontario will give free permits to industries that are especially vulnerable to the cap and trade program, including steel or cement manufacturing, to avoid “carbon leakage”, the feared result of companies leaving Ontario to go to other jurisdictions where the carbon cap wouldn’t apply.

Companies and organizations that produce over 25,000 tones of greenhouse gases due to it’s size — like university campuses, hospitals, and electricity generators — will have to purchase carbon permits, which is how the government will make substantial profit in the coming years. If these industries apply clean technologies, they will be able to then “trade” their extra credits and make money from carbon-emitting industries.

Free credits will also be provided on a one-time basis to industries that have voluntarily lowered emissions targets earlier then the January 2017 deadline. Companies with between 10,000 and 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases will also have the choice to participate in the cap and trade program, but won’t be forced to.

The “cap” is also set to decline annually to meet 2020 carbon emissions targets and will decrease at a rate of 4.17 per cent per year. A slow decrease in rates allows companies to invest in clean industries slowly and adjust to the new cap and trade program.

Many Ontarians are concerned about rising prices from the cap and trade program. Gas prices are set to increase 4.3 per cent per litre and natural gas costs for home heating will rise $5 per month. Though these increasing prices will put more financial pressures on the consumer, energy programs are being introduced to help mitigate the costs.

Recently, the government introduced an incentive of up to $14,000 to purchase an electric vehicle. Enbridge Gas Distrubtion and Union Gas are also offering programs to help homeowners reduce their electricity costs. An incentive ranging between $1000 and $2,500 is offered if a consumer replaces their furnace and water heating system to a more energy reductive alternative. Enbridge also offers a $75 incentive for an adaptive thermostat, which helps save on heating costs as well.

What is cap and trade?

Climate change is on everybody’s mind. The Ontario government has been slowly releasing a stream of green initiative announcements about green cars and environmentally sustainable housing retrofits, but one of the most important initiatives is still to come. Investing in a cap and trade program is one of the best options for the province, with the potential of making a vast impact on the amount of carbon Ontario produces.

Cap and trade agreements place limits on the amount of carbon companies can produce without being financially penalized for it. The “cap” puts a limit on the specific amount of emissions that can be produced annually. In Quebec and California, which currently have active cap and trade programs, the cap declines annually by three to four per cent to allow companies to slowly adjust to increasing carbon reduction targets.

The “trade” allows companies to participate in a market where companies can buy or sell carbon credits. The carbon credits are linked to every tonne of greenhouse gas that is emitted. The “trade” portion of the incentive creates an opportunity for companies make financial gains through the use of environmentally sustainable initiatives — if a company lessens their rate of emissions, they can sell their unused carbon credits to other companies.

The cap and trade program simultaneously rewards companies that have lowered emissions, while penalizing companies that use high levels of greenhouse gases. The incentive also pushes companies to invest in green technologies.
When the cap and trade programs were put in place in Quebec and California, free permits were accessible initially to companies that were particularly vulnerable to the cap and trade program, and Ontario is due to follow suit. Companies that are emissions intensive and trade exposed (EITE) will receive free permits until they can gradually meet targets and reduce greenhouse gases.

Ontario’s cap and trade program will partner with the existing system in Quebec and California. The partnership will allow access to a bigger pool of low-cost emission reductions, a larger market for trade, and help to set a common price for carbon across several jurisdictions.

It is expected that the cap and trade program will make $1.4 billion for the Ontario government annually through penalties, permits, and the auctioning off of carbon credits. Ontario has promised this profit will be invested back into environmental initiatives. “The proceeds generated through cap and trade in Ontario will be reinvested in a transparent way. They will be used for initiatives that further reduce greenhouse gas pollution, support innovation and help households and businesses reduce fuel needs,” said the Cap and Trade Program Design Options report, released by the Ontario government.

Cap and trade essentially holds high carbon-emitting companies accountable and allows environmental sustainable companies the opportunity to make financial gains while supporting the green energy industry and boosting government dollars. More importantly though, it makes strides towards a world where human beings co-exist with the planet rather than continue to destroy it— that is, as long as the government doesn’t auction off too many credits, allowing emission-intensive companies to continue producing greenhouse gasses by simply paying for it.

The Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne, is positive that this new cap and trade program will make a substantial difference in the province’s emission levels.

“To fight climate change — one of the greatest challenges mankind has faced — Ontario is putting a limit on the main sources of greenhouse gas pollution through a cap and trade system to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the health of our children and grandchildren,” she said in a statement back in April.

The Ontario government will be revisiting the cap and trade program in Thursday’s budget meeting, in preparation for its estimated launch in January 2017.

Ontario leading the way with new Electric Vehicles incentive

Once a distant dream on the horizon, Electric Vehicles (EV) are becoming a realistic purchase for buyers due to increased incentives by the province of Ontario.

Ontario is leading the way for electric cars, with their revamp of the modernized Electric Vehicle (EV) Incentive program. The $20 million budget for the program is a part of Ontario’s Green Investment Fund, which has dedicated $325 million to help mitigate climate change.

The purchase rebate of an Electric Vehicle has been increased from a $5000 to $8000 rebate to a $6000 to $10,000 rebate. The owners of the EV’s will also have an opportunity to receive an additional $3000 if they have a vehicle with a larger battery capacity, and additional incentives will be offered to EVs that have more than five kilowatt-hours on their batteries. An additional $5000 will be provided for vehicles with more than five seats.

There are about 5,800 EVs driving along Ontario’s roads and the updated budget is bound to raise these numbers. Dedication to climate change programs such as the Electric Vehicles incentive is imperative for Ontario to reach its greenhouse gas 80 per cent gas reduction target by 2050.

“With a growing population and expanding urban regions, transportation emissions pose one of our province’s greatest challenges in achieving our ambitious greenhouse gas pollution reduction targets,” said Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne in a statement. “By making it easier for people to switch to an electric vehicle, we are taking an important step in our fight against climate change.”

Globally, Ontario is leading the way in EV incentives, providing one of the highest rebates worldwide. In the United States, a maximum $7,500 incentive is being offered for all-electric and plug-in hybrids purchased after 2010 in the form of a tax credit. In Ireland, EVs are provided tax relief up to € 5,000. Plug-in cars are eligible for € 2,500. In Sweden, the one-time “super green car premium” of 4,500 Euros is offered, but will only be provided to 5000 electric vehicles.

The $20 million Ontario investment will go towards creating a network of fast-charging stations across the province. The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has implemented the Electric Vehicle Chargers Ontario program (EVCO), a competitive application-based grant program for public and private sector businesses to encourage investment. There is no cap on the amount of funding a company can request, which means there is potential for the cost of a charging station to be covered in it’s entirety, creating financial motivation for larger businesses. The application closes on Feb. 12.

Ontario Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca, is looking forward to the increased funding for these programs. “Providing better incentives for electric vehicles will help consumers and businesses make the transition to more sustainable vehicles, and keeps Ontario at the forefront of the clean, green economy,” he said.

Should you look into an electric car? Yes!

Cutting down on carbon emissions is an important issue on Ontario’s environmental agenda, and electric vehicles are considered as a great long-term solution.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining popularity, with 5,400 EVs registered in Ontario to date, according to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO). Though public transportation, biking, and walking are the most sustainable forms of travel, people who choose to drive are being offered a green alternative that has great perks.

The initial cost for an electric vehicle can be daunting, ranging from the Fortwo Electric Drive at $26,990 to the BMW i8 at $150,000. The top selling electric car in Canada is the Tesla Model S, which costs $107,000.

Fortunately, Ontario provides an incentive to help people purchase these pricey vehicles. Up to a $8,500 rebate is provided to customers that have a qualifiable EV. The MTO provides a list of battery electric cars and plug-in Hybrid cars that are applicable for the rebate on their website.

Furthermore, the province is providing up to $1000 in rebates for a home-powered charging stations. An approved EV motorist will also receive a green plate that allows them to travel in HOV lanes as an added bonus.

There are currently two types of EVs  offered in Canada; battery electric cars and plug-in hybrid electric cars. Battery electric cars are powered 100 per cent by electricity. They have large battery packs that need to be charged at various charging stations. Plug-in hybrid electric cars are also charged by being plugged in but have smaller battery packs for shorter electric drives. A gas engine or generator will start to run on longer trips when the electric battery runs out.

Though EVs can be pricey initially, they are have great long-term cost savings because electricity is much cheaper than fuel. Emissions are relative to the specific EV that is purchased and Plug N’ Drive, a not-for-profit organization committed to accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles, provides a cost comparison chart that shows how much carbon each vehicle would produce and what the equates to in dollar form. For example, the Tesla Model S creates  1.9 kg of carbon per 100 km, which costs $3.14. Comparatively, if the Tesla was a full gas vehicle, it would create 17.8 kg of carbon per 100 km and cost $9.86.

Electric cars also need less overall maintenance. “Electric cars use an electric motor, a durable technology with one moving part. In addition, electric cars don’t require oil changes, coolant flushes, mufflers or exhaust systems,” the Plug N’ Drive explains. “Bottom line… less money spent on maintenance means more money in your pocket.”

Currently, transportation is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the province. GHGs account for more carbon emissions than iron, steel, cement, and chemical industries combined.

Ontario is embracing the revolution of the electric car as a part of their new Green Investment Fund. Ever since the climate change conference in 2015, protecting the environment has become a priority for the country. The province has invested $20 million into building EV charging stations across Ontario.

“Ontario’s new Green Investment Fund offers exciting opportunities to revolutionize how we live, work, move and play as we fight climate change,” Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen R. Murray, said in a statement. “This initial investment is just the start of many more bold steps we’ll be taking to promote electric cars as a sustainable transportation choice and to reduce greenhouse gas pollution in other sectors.”