Doug Ford isn’t known to use a lot of statistics. He generally stays rosy in his public comments, relying on promises and wide assurances as opposed to cold, hard facts. And since climate change rarely came up during the campaign, he didn’t need to have a set of numbers handy about how he planned to address it. So it was interesting to hear Ford use one statistic over and over again: that transitioning Ontario’s steel industry from coal-powered furnaces to electric ones would reduce emissions equivalent to removing one million cars off Ontario’s roads. 

The Narwhal decided to do the math with a little help from Dave Sawyer, an environmental economist with the Canadian Climate Institute. We discovered that the emissions reductions from this transition would actually be more than what Ford was touting repeatedly — double, actually.

Let’s assume, Sawyer says, that an average Ontario household drives 16,000 kilometres annually, emitting close to three tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from their car. Ontario’s two largest steel plants emit a collective six megatonnes (or six million tonnes) of emissions in the same time period. 

That means transitioning Ontario’s steel plant furnaces to electricity will be the equivalent of removing two million cars from the road, not just one. 

This doesn’t mean Ford is 100 per cent wrong. The Ontario Progressive Conservatives have offered a $500 million contribution to the almost $1.8 billion price tag of phasing out coal-fired steelmaking, with the federal government giving $400 million (it’s unclear where the rest of the money will come from). So maybe Ford is only taking credit for the emissions reductions that will come from already earmarked government funding — which seems confusing. We can’t say for sure, since the Ontario PC Party didn’t respond to The Narwhal’s request to clarify its calculations. This phase-out was one of few climate initiatives in the Ford government’s pre-election budget proposal, so expect to hear this number often. Ontario’s steel industry is the largest source of emissions in this province, so we’ll keep monitoring the progress on this and the possible impacts on industry, and the environment.

Like a kid in a candy store
When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta this spring. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Here’s the thing: we need 300 new members to join this month to meet our budget. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?
We’ve got big plans for 2024
When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta this spring. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Here’s the thing: we need 300 new members to join this month to meet our budget. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?

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The Narwhal’s reporters uncover energy stories that send shockwaves throughout Canada. But they can’t do it alone — we need to add 300 new members this month to meet our budget. Will you support crucial climate reporting that makes an impact?
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The Narwhal’s reporters uncover energy stories that send shockwaves throughout Canada. But they can’t do it alone — we need to add 300 new members this month to meet our budget. Will you support crucial climate reporting that makes an impact?