TORONTO – Ontario’s energy and auto industries say they were surprised by the province’s ambitious plan to slash greenhouse gases, warning that it will drive up home heating costs by as much as $3,000 for homeowners, and that auto makers will not produce enough electric cars to meet its targets.
Environmentalists, meanwhile, say the blueprint puts the province in the vanguard of the battle against climate change, outpacing every other province but Quebec.
The Liberal government’s $7-billion Climate Change Action Plan, scheduled for release in June but obtained this week by The Globe and Mail, promises to start phasing out natural gas for home heating. This will be done partly through incentives for owners of homes and buildings to install geothermal and solar heating, and partly by changes to the building code mandating that, by 2030, all new houses and small buildings be heated by something other than fossil fuels. Natural gas currently provides 76 per cent of the province’s heat.
The plan also promises hefty subsidies for electric vehicles, more charging stations and sets ambitious targets of raising the number of electric vehicles sold to 12 per cent of the total by 2025; at the moment, just 0.16 per cent of the vehicles on the road in Ontario are electric.
“The nature of how we heat and cool our homes, the technology in our vehicles, the application of information technology – the pace of change is going to be enormous,” Environment Minister Glen Murray said on Tuesday. “And what I’ve tried to say is we’re all going to have to step up.”
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