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The Ontario government wants to reduce our province’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because those emissions contribute to global climate change. The Ontario government intends to put a price on carbon – in effect, motivating consumers to burn less fossil fuels. By sending markets this signal, the Ontario government will begin a major transition in the ways we generate, use and manage energy. If this transition is successful, Ontarians will reduce the overall amount of energy they use. Additionally, the energy used by Ontarians will produce less CO₂.

The Ontario government will receive much feedback for taking this direction. Conventional thinking about energy insists we must invest significant sums in new technology and equipment. Therefore, Ontarians will reasonably conclude that solutions to reduce GHG emissions will require spending a lot of money. This assumption is understandable. However, some of the most effective actions to address climate change are those that do not require spending money.

Ontario can take immediate actions that will support the transition with little cost or risk. The process will require a culture shift. By enabling Ontarians to use an ‘energy lens’, I promise every company, municipality and organization will find golden savings and energy reduction nuggets.

When properly executed, the following process will provide significant benefits and help the transition to a more sustainable future. To enable climate action, I encourage all organizations to implement the following strategy:

  • Treat energy and water as controllable inputs, not as fixed overheads;
  • Provide senior leadership with full awareness of, and accountability for, their organization’s energy and water usage;
  • Set annual energy and water targets and goals;
  • Benchmark energy and water use against similar entities within and outside North America;
  • Board level governance should ensure senior leadership has annual key performance indicators for improvements in water and energy use and cost;
  • Energy use, pricing and performance are reported monthly to all operational departments;
  • Multi discipline teams (finance, operations, engineering, maintenance as examples) plan and execute ways of making continuous improvements to energy and water use;
  • Multi disciple teams report to senior leadership at least every 6 months on progress and challenges;
  • Board reports annually to owner(s)/shareholders and other stakeholders on progress against targets and goals.

There would be immediate benefits to the Ontario government if they themselves were to adopt this framework. For a start, they would realize cost savings of anywhere from 5 – 25% on energy and water use. 360 Energy customers experience this regularly. Over the longer term, the Ontario government would be on the same journey to a lower GHG emission future as they want others to follow. They would show they are walking the talk.

To demonstrate leadership, the Ontario government needs to:

  • Treat its energy and water consumption as controllable inputs;
  • Make each Minister and Deputy Minister accountable for all energy and water use within their departments and for all entities within their areas of responsibility;
  • Set realistic, agreed annual reduction targets;
  • Verify consumption baselines and report on current usage and costs;
  • Benchmark against other governments;
  • Create a cross-department Cabinet secretariat reporting to the Premier to oversee implementation of the strategy in government controlled assets across the province;
  • Report widely on firsthand experiences. Identify and remove legislative, regulatory and policy barriers that impede GHG reductions;
  • Report to the Premier and Cabinet at least quarterly;
  • Report progress annually to Ontarians and the Legislative Assembly.

The Ontario climate change strategy could place too heavy a reliance on compliance. I believe this would be a mistake. Relying on compliance as the key driver goes against the spirit of what is being recommended. Effectively tackling any significant economic or environmental challenge entails embracing the following key principles:

  • Providing clear direction and targets to markets;
  • Ensuring a level playing field for all participants;
  • Letting markets find the most cost effective solutions;
  • Ensuring customer utility data are easily accessible, current, and easy to understand;
  • Acknowledging leadership and success;
  • Enabling peer-to-peer learning;
  • Promoting a culture of continuous improvement.

We are very fortunate in North America. We are rich in resources, and are close to healthy and vibrant markets. We live in a very civil and peaceful society. Many countries around the world can only dream about the advantages we enjoy. One of the main reasons for our prosperity is the availability and security of energy that is made available to us every day. This energy comes from hydro power, nuclear, renewables like wind, bio, solar and last but not least fossil fuels, such as natural gas.

We all want future generations to have the opportunity to live a lifestyle that we currently take for granted. For that reason, the risks of climate change will require all of us to think and act differently regarding energy and the environment.

We at 360 Energy welcome responses from all our readers. We would like to hear your stories. Tell us how your organizations are modifying your operations to remain competitive in the global economy but making sure you are doing everything you can for future generations.

Environmental sustainability is a challenge that will not disappear. It will continue to confront us, until with our collective ingenuity and effort, we meet the challenge and embrace the benefits that adopting sustainability will bring.

David Arkell, CEO,

360 Energy Inc.

April 2015