Thursday, June 09, 2011

More on GHG Emission Reductions

There are ways to reduce GHG emissions. Most of the ideas have been around for a while. We just haven’t acted on them.

Gord Miller looks at some of these in his annual Greenhouse Gas Progress Report (

High Speed Rail

High Speed Rail (HSR) is one example.

In January 2008 the Ontario and Quebec governments started a one year study on the feasibility of a HSR system linking Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. A year later the feds joined in to expand the survey to include a Windsor to Quebec city route.

In November 2010 the government said the report would be released in “a timely manner.”

We haven’t seen it yet. Does this sound familiar? You might remember a similar survey in 1995. It reported that a significant reduction (24% by 2025) in transport-related CO2 emissions could result.

I don’t want to suggest that this stuff is simple or that the projections are bang on accurate but 16 years have elapsed, can’t we get moving. The ECO “strongly encourages” the government “to expedite release of the study.”

Low-carbon Fuel Standard

From Miller’s report I understand that there are “technologically feasible low carbon fuels” which if more widely used could reduce GHG emissions.” This is, in fact, a policy tool which, if put in place, would require suppliers to reduce average fuel carbon densities to meet benchmarks. Suppliers who reduce below the standard would get credits that they could sell to other suppliers. This is like a cap- and-trade system except it is within a single sector. Independent analysis shows that such a system could result in a 6.4 Megatonne reduction by 2025. Other jurisdictions are already doing this but Ontario seems to have given up on the idea. Why?

Electrification of GO Trains

Earlier this year Metrolinx recommended electrifying portions of the GO Rail network. Significant GHG emission reductions would result from this move off diesel.

Perhaps any or all of these initiatives will be further advanced in the lead up to the provincial election. The Green Party Platform seems to hint at these kinds of strategies.

But I’m trying to remember when environmental issues were front in centre in an election campaign.

Maybe this will change this fall.