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Gord Miller, Ontario's environmental commissioner, reports that the province's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the electricity sector are threatened by significant increases in the province's use of natural gas to generate electricity.

The report, "Failing our Future," updates Ontario's progress in reducing GHG emissions. While the Ontario government is on track to meet 91% of its 2014 target, it has only achieved 60% of the reductions necessary to meet its 2020 target for reducing GHG emissions. Beyond next year, however, Miller expressed doubt about the province's ability to meet the target.

"I am worried about what comes after 2014,” said Miller. “One of the reasons for this shortfall is the increased reliance on natural gas to generate electricity.”

According to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), natural gas is expected to play an important role in meeting electricity demand in the future, especially when nuclear plants are refurbished in 2020 and 2021. Therefore, increased usage of natural gas could lead to a rise in GHG emissions, depending on factors such as the existing generation capacity and weather.

Miller says the Ontario government needs to give renewed attention to the fight against climate change, indicating, “there has been little progress to report this year.”

As a non-GHG emitting source of electricity, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) indicates that wind energy has the potential to play an important role in further reducing Ontario’s GHG emissions going forward. Wind energy, for instance, reduced GHG gas emissions in Ontario by helping to facilitate the phase-out of coal-fired generation in the province.

"Ontario’s long-term energy plan will need to continue to make GHG emission reductions a priority, and wind energy is well positioned to make a significant and cost-effective contribution to climate change mitigation efforts," says Robert Hornung, CanWEA president.

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