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Ontario’s 2030 target: A Cold Shower with Some FlexMex?

Ontario has just announced an interim GHG target laying out it's aspirational emission reduction pathway to 2050. Keying off a 1990 baseline of 182 Mt, the new 2030 target is 115 Mt or 37% below 1990. This complements a 2020 target of 154 Mt or -15% below 1990 and a 2050 target of -80% below 1990, which works out to about 36 Mt.

In looking at these targets, I think it’s a good thing that Ontario has signaled strongly that it will implement a cap & trade system with California and Quebec. You can draw your own conclusions, but check out the charts below, based on new modelling runs for our Deep Decarbonization Pathway Project developed by Navius and in cooperation with CMC Research Institutes.

In order to bend energy and process GHGs down from the current trajectory to align somewhat with Ontario's targets, the carbon price and the stringency of the complementary regulations required for buildings and vehicles is off the charts. Going it alone and focusing policy just on domestic energy and process GHGs is clearly really expensive.

I can’t help but scratch my head at folks who think that these deep targets are achievable through domestic action alone and without the use of flexibility mechanisms such as domestic landuse offsets. Accessing the broadest pool possible of cheap and verifiable reductions from within and outside our borders is central to avoiding the backsliding that is so systemic to political target setting.

The next time somebody says offsets or trading outside of Ontario is failed policy, ask them politely where they got their analysis.

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