Ontario Increases Rebates for Electric Vehicles

“I think there are more politicians in favor of electric cars than against. There are still some that are against, and I think the reasoning for that varies depending on the person, but in some cases, they just don’t believe in climate change—they think oil will last forever.”
Elon Musk

My home province of Ontario has announced that it is offering some major incentives to people who buy electric vehicles up to a whopping $14,000!

There have already been incentives in place for some time that give anywhere between $5,000 to $8,500 to those who purchase electric vehicles, but this week the Ontario provincial Liberal government formally announced that it will be increasing that range up to between $6,000 and $10,000. In addition, drivers could even get another $3,000 if their electric vehicle has a larger battery capacity, as well as an additional $1,000 if the vehicle has five seats or more.

Higher-priced electric vehicles—defined as having a sticker price between $75,000 and $150,000—do have a cap on the incentive at $3,000. This makes sense since folks who can afford such vehicles really don’t need extra money back from the government. It ceases to be incentive.

What’s particularly nice is that these new incentives are actually retroactive to January 1st, 2016, so anyone who already bought an electric vehicle earlier this year before the announcement came out will still benefit.

As it stands, Ontario has about 5,800 electric vehicles on the road. These incentives will surely help to increase that number.

Canada: Finally Taking Climate Change Seriously

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

From time to time, the Canadian Prime Minister meets with the provincial and territorial premiers all at the same time in one large gathering called a First Ministers meeting. Normally this happens at least every few years but in fact it hasn’t happened since January 16, 2009. That’s more than 2,500 days since the last First Ministers meeting.

Until today. All of them are gathering in Ottawa today and all I can say is it’s about time. And what’s so important for the Prime Minister to bring them all together? Climate change. The last such meeting in 2009 was to discuss the economy, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper wasn’t very keen on group meetings like this so he never held another after that. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hopes to change that, encouraging more cooperation between the federal government and the provinces and territories.

Since the United Nations conference on climate change starts in Paris next week, Trudeau wants to go fully armed with information about how our country feels about the subject. But what Trudeau himself thinks about it has already been made clear:

I was glad to highlight that not only is Canada here to do its part but our part includes putting pressure and encouraging other countries to step up in their commitments so we can ensure that the outcome of Paris is as ambitious and as optimistic as we need it to be.

Trudeau plans to make the environment a priority for his government in stark contrast to Harper, something Obama is pleased about. Because Canada is sending representatives to Paris from all levels of government—federal, provincial, and municipal—Trudeau wants today’s meeting to set the ground work so that Canada’s message will be heard loud and clear on the world stage. Today’s agenda includes a briefing by top climate scientists this afternoon followed by a working dinner and finally a news conference this evening.

Ultimately Trudeau hopes that everyone today will be able to reach a national consensus so that Canada will be able to deliver a strong and cohesive message in Paris. Kathleen Wynne, the premier from Ontario and a political ally of the Prime Minister is optimistic about today’s meeting:

It’s very exciting for the country that we’re going to have an opportunity as premiers to sit down with the Prime Minister and work to forge some national positions and some agreement across the country on how we’re going to present ourselves to the world—particularly on this issue of climate change.

Ontario and Québec have both entered into a cap-and-trade system, putting a price on carbon and creating an economic incentive to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Given that British Columbia already has a carbon tax in place, that means Canada’s three most populated provinces are already tackling the problem in some way. A full 70 percent of Canadians will be living within a jurisdiction that has put a price on carbon.

And that’s something the world needs to hear.

Anti-Wind Takes Another Blow! (Get it?)

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”
William Arthur Ward

Along with Australia, Ontario has one of the largest anti-wind movements on the planet, to the point where groups have resorted to lawsuits in their opposition to wind energy. The bulk of their arguments comes down to wind turbines hurting two things: their health and their property values. So far, not one legal case based on health concerns in Ontario has been successful. Now you can add a constitutional challenge to the list.

Wind farms have been increasing in number in Ontario since 2009 when the Ontario Green Energy Act prevented municipalities from blocking their development. A Feed-in Tariff also helped, giving owners the opportunity to sell their unused electricity. Such wind farms need a Renewable Energy Approval (REA), and these can be appealed on various grounds including serious harm to health. When those appeals were rejected because evidence of serious harm wasn’t found, opponents looked to the courts for the next step in their fight. The Ontario Divisional Court has rejected their claim that the test for harm is itself unconstitutional.

The onus is on the opponents of wind turbines to prove they cause harm. Continue reading

Ontario is Banning Coal For Good!

“Becoming a coal-free province is the equivalent of taking up to seven million cars off the road, which means we’ll have cleaner air to breathe, while saving Ontario $4.4 billion in health, financial and environmental costs.”
—Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario

I witnessed history last week. Thanks to my involvement with Climate Reality Canada, I was invited to Toronto on November 21, 2013 to be present for the announcement that my home province is planning to ban coal for good. The “Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act” will ensure that all Ontario coal facilities will stop operating by the end of 2014.

This means the Nanticoke Generating Station—the largest coal-burning power station in North America—will stop using coal completely next year. Instead the facility will be converted to use advanced biomass, a fuel that can still be used to generate electricity. This is the final step necessary to make Ontario coal-free and is the largest carbon-reduction project on our continent.

And in case this all sounds like no big deal—after all, Ontario has lots of hydro and nuclear, right?—before coal began to be phased out in 2005, coal was used to generate 25 percent of Ontario’s electricity.

The formal announcement was made by Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne. Following her comments, former Vice President Al Gore was on hand to add his comments and congratulations, stating: Continue reading

Ontario's Energy is Getting Even Cleaner

“Ontario’s coal phase-out is the largest carbon reduction project in North America.”
Gillian McEachern of Environmental Defence

Green LivingLast week, my province of Ontario closed the Lambton coal-fired electricity-generating power plant. In 2005 that plant produced nine million tonnes of carbon pollution, an equivalent to that produced by 1.8 million cars. It’s been a major contributor to smog in southern Ontario and it’s estimated that dealing with the health impacts of burning coal in our province costs $3 billion per year.

Gillian McEachern is from Environmental Defence. According to their website they are Canada’s most effective environmental action organization, challenging and inspiring change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all. As one can imagine, McEachern had nothing but applause for the plant closure. In her words: Continue reading