Today I had the honour of presenting my first Energy Conservation Report to the Ontario Legislature. This report is the province’s only comprehensive public summary of fuel use and conservation. Our office hopes it will help inform improved energy efficiency policy in Ontario, particularly in regards to reducing the province’s current dependence on fossil fuels, which now stands at over 80% of our total energy use.
You may be interested in my remarks at today’s media conference.
“Conservation is the cheapest and cleanest source of energy. Since 2007, our population grew about 7 percent and our economy about 8 percent without increasing total energy use. This is a good step in the right direction. But Ontario’s conservation policy is lopsided. We invest heavily in conserving electricity, and electricity consumption has gone down. But electricity is the smallest and the cleanest of our major energy sources.
Since Ontario closed the last coal powered generating station in 2014, we have had very low emission electricity and much cleaner air to breathe. In contrast, Ontario's two largest energy sources are: transportation fuel - primarily gasoline and diesel, and natural gas. Both are fossil fuels with adverse effects on climate change and on air quality. Between them, they were about 73 percent of our energy use in 2014. Proportionately to the energy provided, in 2014 Ontarians invested less than one tenth the amount in conserving natural gas as we did in conserving electricity, and even less on conserving transportation fuels. It is therefore no surprise that other than coal, our total use of fossil fuels has gone up since 2007. We depend on fossil fuels for more than 80 percent of our energy supply.
What would it take to get serious about conserving fossil fuels? The recommendations in our report are all reasonable, achievable, and based on successful experience here and in other jurisdictions.
For example, we recommend that public bodies in Ontario should get serious about a “cleaner, leaner, greener” approach to fossil fuels. For a start, public bodies should be accountable to the public for the energy that they use, for the public money that they spend on energy and for their impact on climate change and air quality. And the first step in accountability is transparency. Why don’t we know which public buildings, organizations or fleets are energy hogs?
Our office has put up a link on our web site today to a map that shows the energy footprint of every public building in the Ontario broader public sector for the past three years. This means municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals. When the federal and provincial governments make this information available for their buildings, we will add it.
The map, and the report, show that Ontario has a huge opportunity to save money and emissions by learning from better public buildings. If all broader public sector buildings performed as efficiently as the top quarter of their building type, taxpayers could save $450 million and 1 megatonne of GHG emissions every year. This isn't rocket science; other countries are way ahead of us. Sweden, for example, has decreased its building energy consumption more than 80 percent in the last 40 years.
We also recommend that Ontario should move towards a level playing field for a sustainable economy. That means rethinking land use policies that favour car-dependant suburbs, and tax breaks that subsidize fossil fuel consumption. It means getting the best bang for our transit buck. It also means setting efficiency standards for products that waste water and energy, and actually enforcing those standards.
Ontario knows how to conserve fossil fuels. And air pollution, climate change and the prudent management of public money all tell us why. It’s time to get serious about conserving the energy sources that really matter: transportation fuels and natural gas. Il est temps de prendre au sérieux la conservation des sources d'énergie qui comptent le plus: les carburants de transport et de gaz naturel.
Thanks to my excellent staff and everyone else who helped us prepare this report.”
I hope you find this report as enlightening as it has been for me and my staff to prepare. Je vous souhaite une bonne lecture!
Environmental Commissioner of Ontario