Urban Sprawl Threatens Ontario's Climate Change Targets

Ontario needs to get tough on urban sprawl if the province wants to meet its own climate change commitments. A new report by the Pembina Institute identifies sprawl as one of the biggest obstacles that may keep Ontario from reaching its greenhouse gas reduction targets.

"In the coming years, the majority of greenhouse gas pollution in Ontario is expected to be transportation related and driven by urban sprawl," says Cherise Burda, Ontario Policy Director for the Pembina Institute. "Yet urban planning in Ontario is still paving the way for the automobile."

The province's 2007 Go Green Ontario climate plan identifies targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, but Burda says it fails to explain how recent initiatives, such as the Places to Grow plan and the Greenbelt Act, will actually translate into reductions in greenhouse gas pollution.

"Actions like tougher restrictions on sprawl and more intensified development should be low-hanging fruit in the grab for opportunities to reduce climate change pollution," adds Burda. "Current urban planning policies and targets are not rigorous enough to combat the extent of urban sprawl and unsustainable development that is already underway."

Coming on the coattails of Ontario's appointment of a Climate Change Secretariat, the Pembina Institute report, Getting Tough on Urban Sprawl: Solutions to meet Ontario climate change targets stresses the need for Ontario to integrate its fairly ambitious climate change targets into planning policy.

Ontario has shown leadership in its land use planning policy and its stated commitments to addressing climate change, but problems and shortcomings in its approach may keep Ontario from meeting its own goals.

The report outlines seven priority areas the province and the new secretariat need to address to combat sprawl and help meet Ontario's greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. These priorities include incorporating sustainable energy policies into urban planning policy, removing subsidies to development in greenfields and increasing urban density targets.

The report can be downloaded at http://www.pembina.org

For more information:

Cherise Burda, Ontario Policy Director
Tel: 416-644-1016 ext. 1
Cel: 416-824-0256

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