How is Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan relevant to Sault Ste. Marie?

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Smart Energy Business Strategist breaks down the action plan and its local significance

The Province of Ontario recently launched its Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), an ambitious five-year plan outlined over 86-pages intended to help the province fight climate change. A cornerstone of the plan is the cap and trade program that will generate revenue that, by law, must be invested in projects and programs that help reduce greenhouse gas pollution. The anticipated budget of the program is $6 to $8 billion over the next five years which will be made available to Ontario businesses and residents through CCAP programs. Sault Ste. Marie residents, businesses and community leaders should take this opportunity to learn about the action plan and its local impact, potential cost savings, government funding available, and job creation through program development and action plan roll out.

Reducing carbon emissions through cap and trade is a mandated financial and legislated responsibility under which all people and businesses in Ontario will be impacted. The CCAP states that investments will be geared to create economic stimulus and if effectively managed or leveraged, they may also increase the level of research and development (R&D), innovation and business startups in the community.  The province has identified 2017 as the beginning of the action plan initiatives in Ontario.

The CCAP mentions that, according to the U.S. State Department, expansion of the global green economy is forecast to be six times greater than the technology boom of the 1990s — which saw the growth of the Internet, the first smart phones, and other breakthroughs that affect everyday life today.

“CCAP presents an opportunity for the Sault to continue its leadership role in clean energy, and for its residents, businesses, post-secondary institutions, non-profit organizations and the municipal government to benefit from potential financial savings, job creation, funding access and investments,” said Kieran O’Neill, Smart Energy Business Strategist with the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre. “Stakeholders would be wise to review the action plan and prepare for opportunities to utilize funding to reduce our carbon emissions and benefit local businesses and citizens.”

It is estimated that CCAP could cost the average Ontario household an additional $13 per month in overall cost of living[1]. In Sault Ste. Marie, this could represent an increase of between $4.5 to 5 million per year from residents or an overall increase of approximately 2% to the total cost of energy. This money would go directly towards all initiatives in the CCAP.

“Whether you are a supporter or opponent of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, it’s moving forward and will inevitably impact our community,” continued O’Neill. “This plan was created to help fight climate change and protect our environment, and in efforts to do so, the province will allocate the significant amount of money generated by the cap and trade program to this initiative, including funds accessible by communities, businesses and individuals who choose to take action.”

“Sault Ste. Marie has a vast portfolio of renewable energy assets and is a provincial leader in producing sustainable clean energy,” said Tom Vair, Executive Director, SSMIC. “The CCAP presents an opportunity for the community to further distinguish ourselves in the energy sector.”

Overall action areas in CCAP (each with local significance) include Transportation; Buildings and Homes; Land-Use Planning; Industry and Business; Collaboration with Indigenous Communities; Research and Development; Government; and Agriculture, Forests and Land.

Some additional highlights of the significance of CCAP to Sault Ste. Marie:

  • Ontario’s CCAP further heightens the economic development potential behind the clean energy movement, reinforcing the need for Sault Ste. Marie to aggressively diversify its economy towards clean, low carbon technology.
  • As a result of cap and trade, carbon emissions could have a considerable impact on short- and long-term business plans and investment priorities for Sault Ste. Marie business operations.
  • The province has indicated that cap and trade will allow for businesses in municipalities such as the Sault to make planned investment decisions around reducing carbon emissions in the future and that large manufacturing companies, like our local steel plant, will have flexibility in choosing a path for reductions and multi-year compliance periods working in their favour.
  • The community as a whole must use identified areas of action to build strategies to address cap and trade implications. Tasking leaders to be proactive across the community will better position businesses to adapt their operations to access funding, preserve operation sustainability and reduce their impact on the environment.

O’Neill has reviewed the CCAP in detail and created a resource document summarizing the plan and highlighting its relevance to the Sault is available for download here. The full Climate Change Action Plan published by the Province of Ontario can be found here.

SSMIC’s Smart Energy team will be releasing its 2016 Smart Energy Strategy in the coming weeks. The Strategy is being pursued in an effort to diversify the local economy, create jobs and spur economic development as a result of current and future growth in the energy sector.  A Smart Energy Strategy is essential to Sault Ste. Marie to maximize the potential of the energy sector in the community and foster new growth through business development and investments. Collective stakeholder and community support is essential to its success.

To help local businesses and organizations learn more about the CCAP and how it impacts them, the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre will be hosting two information sessions on Wednesday, July 27, one from 3 – 4 p.m. and one from 7 – 8 p.m. The sessions will provide an overview of CCAP and local relevance, as well as time for a Q&A. To register for one of the sessions, please sign up here. For questions about the session, please email [email protected].

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