EDMONTON — Premier Kathleen Wynne says Ontario will not ban the use of natural gas for home heating as part of its climate change action plan.
The plan hasn’t been released yet, but the Liberals had been coy about details ever since a published report based on a leaked draft copy said the province would phase out fossil fuels for home heating.
But in her strongest statement yet on the issue, Wynne called the report “false,” and said natural gas will “absolutely” be used to heat Ontario homes in the future.
Natural gas is used to heat more than three-quarters of the homes in the province, and critics warned phasing it out would drive up energy costs for everyone.
Wynne, who signed a deal with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in Edmonton on Thursday to develop clean technologies to fight climate change, also said she wasn’t worried about California’s weak market for carbon emissions.
Only about a tenth of the available pollution credits in California were sold in an auction last week as part of the state’s cap-and-trade plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it raised $600 million less than expected.
Ontario is set to join the cap-and-trade program with California and Quebec next January, and has already started spending some of the $1.9 billion it expects to raise from the plan each year.
“California is ahead of us, and we’ve got some catching up to do,” said Wynne.
“We’re pushing ahead, and there’s a lot of innovation that I know can happen in Ontario, and that’s what our cap-and-trade program is going to be about.”
Ontario won’t hold its first emissions auction until next spring, but has already announced it how it will spend $1 billion of the revenue it hopes to generate.
The Liberals promised $900 million to retrofit social housing and apartment buildings to make them more energy efficient, and $100 million to introduce so-called renewable natural gas into the supply mix.
Wynne will deliver a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce Friday, take part in a roundtable with business representatives and meet Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
— Written by Keith Leslie in Toronto