Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/11/2010 (3527 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TORONTO -- Canada's battle against climate change is now in the hands of the provinces, Ontario's environment minister said Monday.
Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia will have to forge ahead with a regional cap-and-trade system now that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions appear to have stalled in Ottawa and Washington, said John Wilkinson.
Talks to develop a regional system will "accelerate" in the wake of the Republican midterm victory that's dashed hopes for new climate change legislation from the United States, he said.
"I think those discussions over the next few months will be intensified as it becomes clear that we're going back to the situation that we had prior to 2008, which is the need for individual states and provinces to create a system," Wilkinson said in an interview from St. Marys, Ont.
The recent Republican victory has effectively turned back the clock to the days of the Bush administration, when there was zero interest in developing a cap-and-trade system, he said.
Cap-and-trade places a ceiling on greenhouse gases and lets participants buy and sell emissions permits within that cap. Those who don't meet the emissions targets can buy credits from others with a surplus instead of lowering their emissions.
Obama, who was elected in 2008, would have difficulty passing any legislation now, Wilkinson said. And since the federal Conservatives won't move before Washington does, there's little hope Ottawa will take the helm.
However, the four provinces -- along with seven U.S. states -- are partners in the Western Climate Initiative, which plans to set up a cap-and-trade system by 2012. Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Yukon are observers.
"It is important for us to signal to the federal government that provinces representing the vast majority of the economy of Canada are prepared to enter into a cap-and-trade system," Wilkinson said.
A continental system would be far more effective in curbing harmful emissions, but Ontario will keep trying to create a bigger trading market, Wilkinson said.
The province is already making efforts to reduce its emissions by investing in public transportation, protecting the greenbelt and reducing its dependence on coal-fired generation.
"Cap-and-trade is just one of the arrows in the quiver, and we'll be reaching out to willing partners in other states and provinces," he said.
The midterm elections may have shelved Obama's environmental agenda for the time being, but it also produced a minor victory for environmentalists, said Ontario's environmental watchdog.
California's Proposition 23, which would have delayed the state's greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, was defeated. Voters also elected Democrat Jerry Brown, who supports WCI, as their next governor.
That sends a clear signal that California, a major player in WCI, will be front and centre in implementing cap-and-trade, said Ontario environmental commissioner Gord Miller. But they need to pick up the pace.
"These jurisdictions have to start moving pretty darn fast now," said Miller, who regularly blogs about climate change developments.
-- The Canadian Press
Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.
To those who have made donations, thank you.
To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.
The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.
After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.
If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.
We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.