By Philippe Teisceira-Lessard, The Canadian Press, in Globe and Mail, December 16, 2011
With global climate-change talks in limbo, Quebec is the first province to push ahead with its own cap-and-trade program.
The province says it's emulating California as it becomes the first Canadian province to start enforcing cap-and-trade regulations for carbon emissions.
Starting on Jan. 1, there will be a one-year transition period to help large emitters adjust to the new system, which will officially kick in at the start of 2013.
Provincial Environment Minister Pierre Arcand made the announcement Thursday as he criticized the federal government for withdrawing from the Kyoto accord.
“I think Canada should absolutely be showing more leadership, be showing more ambition,” Mr. Arcand said.
“I find it altogether unacceptable that the Canadian position still be tied to the American position.”
The federal government has said it won't enter a carbon market without the United States, Canada's main trading partner, and any short-term prospects for that appear to have been snuffed out in the U.S. Congress.
But Mr. Arcand expressed his belief there will be a global carbon market eventually, and he said Quebec wanted to be proactive.
The new provincial program applies to large industrial emitters and will require them to reduce their carbon footprint or buy clean-air credits at $10 per tonne of greenhouse gases.
It is being run in conjunction with the Western Climate Initiative, whose stated objective is to reduce emissions 15 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. Quebec's own target is significantly stricter, with a planned 20 per cent reduction from 1990 levels by the end of this decade.
All Quebecers and all Candians can be proud of this announcement, especially in the wake of the condemnation of Canada following the Durban Conference on climate change. Pulling out of Kyoto after the conference has done nothing to enhance the Canadian position on the world stage, on this file. For the Harper government, it seems as if they are unable to walk and chew gum at the same time. While remaining focused on jobs and the economy, they have been unable or unwilling to include the environment's protection under that umbrella, believing instead that protecting the environment would "cost Canada jobs," as Harper put it in the House this week.
What is especially ironic is that the Premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, has been declared politically "dead" for several years now, and yet he continues to defy his critics by returning with another "new life" ....and here is another instance in which he has done it again. He knows that the Quebec electorate is supportive of government action on global warming and climate change, and while this may be another 'houdini' act to save his political life, we will take it on whatever terms the Quebec government offers it.
Congratulations, to the government of Quebec, on this announcement; hopefully it will have the desired effect of embarrassing the Harper government, although that prospect seems remote.