Mississauga calling on province to phase out gas-fired power plants

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Mississauga council, which approved the city's first multi-million dollar Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) in 2019, recently endorsed a motion calling on the province to phase out its gas-fired power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). 

The motion was brought forward by Ward 8 Councillor Matt Mahoney and seconded by Ward 6 Councillor Ron Starr.

According to the Independent Electricity System Operator's Annual Planning Outlook, GHG emissions from Ontario’s electricity grid are expected to rise in the coming years as the province increasingly relies on gas-fired power plants to help meet electricity demand. 

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance says that increased reliance on gas-fired power plants to generate electricity will increase GHG emissions by more than 300 per cent by 2030 and by 500 per cent or more by 2040.

"The increased use of gas-fired power plants by the Government of Ontario is discouraging. It is a major set-back and contradicts what many Ontario municipalities, like Mississauga, are trying to avoid - increasing greenhouse gas emissions," said Mayor Bonnie Crombie in a statement. 

"For Mississauga, climate change is a key priority. We will continue to take significant action to reduce our carbon footprint and create a more resilient future. Our focus will remain on sustainable practices, improving energy efficiency in our facilities and exploring renewable energy, such as solar energy."

Other cities, including Burlington, Hamilton and Kingston, have also passed motions calling for the gradual cessation of gas-powered electricity production. 

"With climate change being a major global issue, we shouldn't be reliant on gas-fired power plants. If the Province continues with their plan, there will be a 500 per cent or more increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector by 2040," said Mahoney, who is chair of the Environmental Action Committee (EAC), in a statement. 

"With resounding support from EAC, this was an important motion to bring forward as we have a shared responsibility to work together to lower greenhouse gas emissions. This includes having the Government of Ontario commit to replacing gas-fired power plants with clean energy and low carbon solutions. As a city, we have started laying the foundation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through tangible actions within our Climate Change Action Plan."

The CCAP aims to reduce 80 per cent of GHG emissions by 2050, with the long-term goal of becoming a net-zero community.

Mississauga had previously taken prior measures to address climate change. In 1999, the city joined the Partners for Climate Protection program, a joint initiative with ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. 

Ten years later, the city passed a resolution supporting an "ambitious, fair and binding international climate agreement,” and this was followed by Crombie signing the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy in 2017.

In 2019, the city declared a climate change emergency, following suit with several cities around Canada and around the world.

Mississauga’s CCAP has five action pathways: buildings and clean energy, resilient and green infrastructure, accelerating discovery and innovation, low emissions mobility and transportation, engagement and partnerships. The estimated financial cost of each action ranges from $100,000 at a low cost to as high as $500,000 at a high cost, if not already covered by existing staff capacity or operating budgets.

Overall, the plan would cost more than $457.6 million in the coming decade between the years 2020 and 2029.

"The plan targets a one per cent reduction per year in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions over the next five year in city facilities. It will be increasingly difficult to meet these annual targets as Ontario's electricity grid becomes more carbon-intensive," said Raj Sheth, Director, Facilities & Property Management, in a statement. 

A copy of the Gas-Fired Electricity Generation Phase Out motion will be sent to Premier Doug Ford, area MPPs and other Ontario municipalities, including Peel Regional Council.

With files from Alan Kan

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