01/13/2015 07:22 EST | Updated 01/14/2015 12:59 EST

Ontario To Put A Price On Carbon Emissions: Environment Minister


The Ontario government plans to put a price on carbon emissions to cut down on greenhouse gases, making good on a seven-year-old promise to fight climate change.

The province’s environment minister said Tuesday his new climate strategy will set Canada’s most populous region on a path to reduce its GHG emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. And, as The Globe and Mail reported “he pledges carbon pricing will be part of it.”

“We’re looking at how we can transition Ontario to a low carbon economy through initiatives such as setting a price on carbon, the adoption of cleaner fuel standards, energy efficiency and conservation measures,” Glen Murray said in an email to Huffington Post Canada.

Carbon pricing charges emissions from both corporations and consumers through various measures including emissions trading systems, carbon taxes or payments for emission reductions. Ontario has not yet decided which path to follow.

“Market mechanisms which encourage technological innovation can facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy and promote economic development and job creation not only in Ontario, but across Canada,” Murray said.

“The system will have to actually reduce GHGs at a sufficient rate, work with other jurisdictions, attract capital investment and function as a workable market mechanism that rewards businesses while promoting sustainable economic advancement within a competitive global economy.”

The Liberal government has not announced an exact strategy and said it will decide later this year what it’s system will look like.

Ontario signed the Western Climate Initiative agreement with California, British Columbia and Quebec in 2008, which committed the province to introducing carbon pricing. Murray said Ontario has been focused on eliminating coal-fired power plants since 2008 and with that done, it is now moving onto deciding its carbon pricing strategy.

B.C. has already implemented a carbon pricing plan, which returns the money to its residents through reductions in other taxes.

California and Quebec instead adopted cap-and-trade systems, establishing a carbon market that allows bigger polluters to buy emissions credits from low polluting businesses.

Murray said Ontario’s three biggest partner provinces in the Canadian Energy Strategy -- B.C., Alberta and Quebec -- already have some form of carbon pricing and their experiences provide good examples, but it is not yet determined whether the province will pursue a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system.

About 40 national and 20 sub-national jurisdictions around the world have implemented or have scheduled emissions trading schemes or carbon taxes, representing 22 per cent of global emissions.


Photo gallery 10 Political Cartoons That Put Climate Change In Perspective See Gallery