Canadian Underwriter

Manitoba to join Ontario, Quebec in introducing cap-and-trade system for large carbon emitters

December 7, 2015   by Canadian Underwriter

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Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger announced late last week that the province will join Ontario and Quebec in introducing a cap-and-trade system for large carbon emitters.

Premier Greg Selinger (centre) is joined by (l-r): Amanda Lathlin, MLA; Elizabeth Shearer, David Suzuki Foundation; Dan Mazier, Keystone Agricultural Producers; Tom Nevakshonoff, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister; and Dr. Danny Blair, University of Winnipeg at the release of Manitoba's comprehensive plan to fight climate change and protect the environment, while creating green jobs and building a sustainable economy

Ontario’s Office of the Premier added in a statement that the three provinces signed a new memorandum of understanding to facilitate their intent to link the cap-and-trade programs in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba under the Western Climate Initiative. Five Canadian provinces, the newest three plus Alberta and British Columbia, will now have some form of carbon pricing mechanism, representing 32.3 million Canadians, or 90% of the population.

The MOU was signed while the three Premiers were taking parting in the United Nations’ 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) on climate change in Paris.

In addition to the cap-and-trade system, which places a price on carbon emissions in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases, Manitoba will also enter into consultations with other sectors on the potential to introduce carbon stewardship, “a unique made-in-Manitoba solution for non-capped industries,” Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship said in a press release. The new plan will work to drive innovation in the transportation and agriculture sectors, assess local climate change risks and develop solutions, expand work to combat climate change through new community partnerships and advance innovative energy projects in local communities in order to continue to grow the green economy and create green jobs, the release added.

“Climate change is the defining global environmental issue of our time and now is the time for action,” Selinger said. “Through the actions outlined in Manitoba’s plan and with the co-operation of the new Canadian federal government and all Manitobans, the province will cut greenhouse gases by one-third by 2030, enhance economic opportunities and create at least 6,000 new green jobs by 2020.”

The premier noted the plan, among other items, includes the following several initiatives:

• The province will continue investments in crucial infrastructure from flood mitigation to adaptable transportation in remote communities;

• The province will introduce a proposed comprehensive “environmental bill of rights” that would enshrine the commitment that every Manitoban has the right to clean air, water, land and a stable climate. The new act would include an independent oversight body to ensure public accountability;

• Manitoba will partner with the City of Winnipeg to introduce curb-side composting, reducing nutrient loading through historic investments in wastewater treatment, electrify public transportation and expand active transportation;

• Manitoba will also partner with the geothermal industry and community organizations, such as Aki Energy, to responsibly introduce more geothermal and biomass installations, creating green jobs and powering the green economy;

• The province will continue to expand on nationally recognized green building standards;

• Manitoba will move to make government operations carbon neutral; and

• The province’s support for climate science will be expanded through the Prairie Climate Centre and the Churchill Marine Observatory, which will research and inform Manitobans about climate change and allow the province to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

Philippe Dunsky, Dunsky Energy Consulting, said in the release that “the targets are aggressive but achievable, and I have every confidence that they will spur yet more innovation at Manitoba Hydro and more cost savings for Manitobans.”

“It is our collective obligation to fight climate change to ensure a healthy environment and robust economy,” Selinger concluded. “We must do what we can to mitigate current risks while looking at ways to adapt to climate change. Delays will only make it more difficult and costly in the future.”