Scientists overwhelmingly agree that:
- Climate change is real, and
- It is caused by human activity.
Human activity has increased the concentration of greenhouse gases and in doing so changed the global climate. The overall increase in Earth’s average temperature has already had a severe impact on humanity, including increasingly deadly weather events, famine, and wildfires.
If the planet’s temperature increases by 2° Celcius, scientists warn that the impact will be catastrophic and threaten the very foundations of life on Earth.
Greenhouse gases trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere and as a result warm the Earth’s climate. Carbon dioxide is by far the most significant greenhouse gas in terms of its contribution to global warming.
Climate change is a global challenge; every country in the world has a role to play. In Canada, the federal government has set a target of becoming a net-zero carbon emitting nation by 2050. However, Ontario is only seeking to reduce carbon emissions to a rate of 30% below the level of emissions the province created in 2005.
For Canada to succeed, all provinces will need to work together to reach the national goal.
As a large province with people spread out across a vast land mass in a colder, northern climate, Ontario’s carbon emissions are mostly created by burning fuel for transportation, building operations (such as heating), and in heavy industrial activities. These three types of activity account for three-quarters of Ontario’s carbon emissions.
Fortunately, there are attainable solutions that will allow Ontarians to continue enjoying their quality of life while shifting fuels that don’t contribute to climate change. This largely involves using carbon-free electricity sources, including hydroelectric, nuclear and renewable power. Ontario already uses all three types of non-emitting power but will need much more of them along with the infrastructure to get that clean electricity wherever it is required so everyone can switch to non-emitting power.
This series of white papers looks at the challenges Ontario faces in addressing climate change and proposes how to move forward to create a prosperous, net-zero carbon emissions future in Ontario.