(Updates with Murray comments on government’s May 2 closure order, PC party position)
Filibustering by Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party is threatening the province’s plan to legislate its cap-and-trade programme by June, which would make the planned Jan. 2017 launch difficult, while a crushing election defeat for Manitoba’s ruling NDP party could impact its proposed carbon market.
The Ontario Tories are using delay tactics to derail the provincial carbon market, the Globe and Mail reported, because they are concerned over its impact on consumers and are worried the revenue from CO2 allowance auctions might be misspent.
Ontario’s proposed cap-and-trade bill, introduced by the ruling Liberal party, is currently stuck in a legislative committee, and PC committee members are doing everything they can to delay proceedings, including making lengthy speeches about minor amendments and repeatedly calling for 20-minute breaks.
“We’ve committed to a very, very, very strict implementation plan over the next two-to-three years. We don’t have a lot of runway to solve the climate change problem. We can’t afford to lose another year,” Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray told the paper.
The Canadian Press reported later on Wednesday that Murray said the government had decided to invoke closure in order to wrap up the committee hearings by May 2.
Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown last month said he backed the introduction of a provincial carbon tax provided it’s completely revenue-neutral, reversing the party’s previous opposition to CO2 pricing.
But Murray said the Tories’ efforts in trying to block the Liberals’ bill undermine their new-found support of carbon pricing.
“They clearly don’t understand what carbon pricing is because they haven’t been able to articulate any substance to their position except revenue neutrality,” Murray said, as reported by the Canadian Press.
Meanwhile, the leader of Ontario’s left-leaning NDP party Andrea Horwath urged the Tories to support the bill.
The provincial government aims to use the cap-and-trade system to meet its target of cutting GHG emissions 37% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050, and wants to link its market to those in Quebec and California under the WCI programme.
Ontario’s system will cap CO2 emissions from facilities that emit more than 25,000 tonnes of CO2e annually, from the power sector, including imported electricity and natural gas distribution, as well as industry and petroleum product suppliers.
Manufacturers and electricity generation from biomass will receive all their allowances for free in the first four years, while other participants must buy permits in government auctions or in the secondary market.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring Manitoba the ruling NDP party was ousted from office following 17 years in power as the PC party won in a landslide election on Tuesday, the result of which could impact that province’s planned cap-and-trade scheme.
The Tories won 40 of the 57 seats in the province’s legislature, garnering more than 53% of the vote.
Premier Greg Selinger, who resigned as party leader following his party’s crushing defeat, announced the emissions trading programme last year as a tool to help Manitoba reach its new target of cutting GHG emissions by a third below 2005 levels by 2030, and also wanted it to link with the markets under the WCI.
Manitoba’s scheme had no official start date, but observers forecast a 2018 launch.
It was expected to cover around 13 million tonnes of emissions from all major emitting sectors except waste and agriculture, regulating roughly 60% of the prairie province’s total GHG output.
It’s unclear where Manitoba PC leader Brian Pallister stands on the NDP’s proposed scheme, and efforts to get a response from the party were so far unsuccessful.
In the Tories’ campaign platform, it pledged to “work with the federal government and other jurisdictions to develop a made-in-Manitoba climate action plan” involving carbon pricing, as well as efforts to cut CO2 from commercial buildings, enhance fuel efficiency in vehicles, and increase carbon sequestration through land-use changes.
By Stian Reklev and Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org