Ontario joins the carbon pricing chorus

Good news from the frontier today: Ontario has announced its intention to put a price on carbon, joining Alberta, Québec and British Columbia. These four provinces alone account for almost 80% of Canada’s GHG emissions (based on 2012 data from Environment Canada) so their efforts shouldn’t be sniffed at.

This morning, Ontario’s Ministry of Environment & Climate Change released its Climate Change Discussion paper for a 45-day comment period, ending on 29 March 2015. The notice and material is available on Ontario’s Environmental Registry.

The Discussion Paper, which will help to inform a Ontario’s climate strategy and action plan to be announced later this year, contains guiding principles to achieving the province’s near and longer-term climate goals, potential pathways to sustainable prosperity, and critical policy areas requiring immediate attention for Ontario to achieve its climate targets and drive transformational change, including putting a price on carbon.

Crucially, it says: “It is clear that carbon pricing is a climate-critical policy that will be driving emission reductions across Ontario’s economy”.

The paper outlines Ontario’s long term vision for transformation to a low-carbon economy, suggesting specific immediate actions around the following key themes:

  • Key sector-specific actions such as productivity improvements in transportation, industry, buildings, electricity, agriculture and waste by building on existing climate-critical provincial initiatives;
  • Supporting science, research, and technology as critical element of long-term transformation and to help drive economic growth;
  • Working with partners to promote climate resilience and risk management in key areas; and
  • Putting a price on carbon to encourage clean technology research, development and investment

The provincial government is also keen to learn from “other leading jurisdictions – such as Quebec and California”, and recognises the benefits that can come from working in harmony with a partner – or partners – such as lower prices, quicker adoption of cleaner solutions in different sectors globally, and to help shape the rules for global collaboration on climate change. Act local, think global.

Over the coming months, Ontario plans to make a decision on the type(s) of carbon pricing mechanism(s) it chooses to pursue as part of its near and longer-term climate strategy. It is expected that goals of the province’s carbon pricing approach will focus on achieving environmental outcome certainty (ie, real, measurable greenhouse gas reductions), driving private sector leadership and innovation, and allowing for flexibility and various degrees of support for impacted consumers and industry.

Katie Sullivan, IETA

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