August 2017
Backgrounder
Municipal governments are at the forefront of managing and addressing climate change. They regularly invest in infrastructure that helps lower greenhouse gas emissions and helps communities adapt to climate change. This includes: public transit; renewable energy projects; efficient municipal buildings; and, resilient road, bridge and water, wastewaster and stormwater systems.

The provincial government’s Climate Change Action Plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Ontario’s major sources of GHGs – transportation, industry and buildings – are a high priority in moving to a lower carbon economy. The Plan will be funded by the government’s cap and trade system. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account will provide up to $1.9 billion per year.

Climate Change Action Plan
AMO provided recommendations on the Climate Change Action Plan, as well as the Climate Change and Low Carbon Economy Act, 2016, which establishes rules for the cap and trade system and the allocation of revenues. AMO’s priorities range from economic development and transit and active transportation, to green building standards and climate adaptation for infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

AMO is pleased that the Plan recognizes the important role municipal governments play in creating a sustainable future. It provides a number of mechanisms and supports for municipalities to implement the Province’s vision. These include:
  • a Municipal Climate Change Challenge Fund to support local governments in implementing greenhouse gas reduction projects;
  • eliminating minimum parking requirements to reduce reliance on cars in major transit corridors;
  • support for cycling infrastructure and complete communities through the Planning Act and official plan process;
  • support for energy planning, mapping and transportation demand management;
  • building a circular economy through Ontario’s waste strategy that could see landfills and organic waste management systems capturing methane for use; and,
  • improvements in social housing units through energy retrofits and low carbon technologies.
The federal government has committed $21.9 billion over 11 years to green infrastructure, which should further support climate action. It also announced that it would create a national carbon price that charges $50 per ton of greenhouse gas emissions in 2022, to put a floor under provincial regimes, such as Ontario’s cap and trade. The federal government’s objective is for there to be a minimum price on carbon emissions within Canada, but provinces and territories could go beyond this if desired.  

Low Carbon Economy
AMO has established a Low Carbon Economy Opportunities Task Force to provide advice to the Board on matters such as the integration between energy, climate and economic policy areas; advocacy needs and opportunities; and potential program development for LAS. The Task Force has met with provincial officials and other stakeholders to provide municipal perspectives on provincial and federal policy. It will be looking for opportunities to leverage and support municipalities in making the transition to a low carbon economy.