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Ontario’s carbon footprint – how Ontarians’ emissions contribute to global climate change and what we can do about it

By Dianne Saxe

“What can I do to reduce my greenhouse gas emissions?”

Over the past three years, I have spoken with thousands of Ontarians. Many are profoundly concerned about climate change and, sensing the urgency, want to know what they can do to help. To answer this question, my office has developed a short fact sheet and an accompanying backgrounder to show how our lifestyle choices contribute to global climate pollution.

The numbers we dug into show that the average Ontarian personally causes about 11 tonnes of GHG emissions (in carbon dioxide equivalents – CO2e) per year. About half of the personal impact comes from just four activities: driving, flying, home heating and eating beef.

Pie chart showing that half of the average Ontarian's carbon footprint is caused by four activities: driving, flying, home heating and eating beef.

The fact sheet outlines how much the average Ontarian emits in each category, and how individual choices can increase or decrease emissions. The backgrounder takes a deeper dive into the research, shedding light on why certain choices lead to bigger or smaller footprints, and why some GHG-reducing actions have bigger impacts than others.

Ontarians know that climate change is an urgent threat, and that we must dramatically reduce the climate pollution we cause.

Reducing individual carbon footprints is a great place to start but a terrible place to stop. Climate change is everyone’s problem and it requires both individual and collective action. Individual actions, accompanied by good government policy, can help make a significant difference.

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