INTERVIEW: Q&A with Glen Murray, Ontario minister of climate change and environment

Published 19:59 on March 15, 2017  /  Last updated at 19:59 on March 15, 2017  /  Americas, Canada, Contributed Content, Other Content, US  /  No Comments

Minister Murray is leading Ontario’s Cap-and-Trade programme, for which the first auction will be on Mar. 22. Canadian Clean Energy Conferences asked him for an update on key programme developments including the post-2020 market design, offset protocols, and the linkage with the Western Climate Initiative.

As Ontario Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray is leading Ontario’s Cap-and-Trade programme for which the first auction will be next Wednesday, March 22. Minister Murray is providing the opening keynote at the upcoming Ontario Cap-and-Trade Forum on April 26-27 in Toronto. In the run-up to the Forum, Canadian Clean Energy Conferences asked Minister Murray for an update on key programme developments including the post-2020 market design, offset protocols, and the linkage with the Western Climate Initiative.

Canadian Clean Energy Conferences: What are the next steps for the post- 2020 market design consultations?

Minister Murray: The ministry will continue to engage stakeholders as it designs policy for the future phases of the programme. The initial stakeholder engagement sessions for Ontario’s post-2020 programme design started in mid-August last year. We intend to have additional meetings with sectors this year as we continue to engage them on important design issues including caps and allocations.

CCEC: How did the practice auction go in January?

MM: Ontario hosted a practice auction from January 9-18, 2017, for registered participants in the cap-and-trade programme to help prepare for the first official auction in March 2017. The practice auction was conducted successfully and the auction processes and procedures were conducted correctly. No money or allowances changed hands during the practice auction.

CCEC: The development of offset protocols is of great interest to programme participants. Can you give us an update on how that process is going with 3 protocols expected early this year – when should companies expect to participate in the offset market?

MM: The adaptation process for the first three protocols is underway. Technical task teams and stakeholder teams are being formed for each of the protocols. Teams will also be formed for the remaining ten protocols, most of which are expected to be completed by the end of 2017. Forestry-based protocols may be available in early 2018. It is important to note that there is more to an offset programme than the provision of protocols. Programme procedures and application forms, verification procedures, registry services, are also being developed concurrently with the protocol adaptations. These processes will be consistent with the offsets component of the cap-and-trade regulation which will be amended to include offset initiative registration and credit issuance requirements in 2017. A regulatory proposal describing the proposed approach was posted on the Environmental Registry in November 2016 and can be found at the following link: http://www.downloads. documents/2016/012-9078.pdf

Offset project development by interested project developers may begin at any time provided the projects are undertaken according to an Ontario protocol.

CCEC: How are plans for investing programme revenue into carbon reduction projects evolving?

MM: The Climate Change Action Plan contains over 70 initiatives designed to reduce GHGs in our province. As Minister of MOECC, as required by the Climate Change Mitigation and Low Carbon Economy Act, 2016, I am in the process of completing my review and evaluation of initiatives seeking cap-and-trade proceeds. The process is expected to be completed in the coming months, with announcements to follow, as well as a public report on the review and evaluation.

CCEC: How is the linkage with the WCI developing? What do you see as the benefits for Ontario market participants of having this link to a broader carbon market?

MM: Ontario will continue to work with Quebec and California to formalize Ontario’s entry into the linked programme and will amend the cap-and-trade regulation in mid-2017 to facilitate linking. Linked markets bring many economic benefits, including access to a larger pool of low-cost emissions reductions, making it more affordable for companies to lower their emissions. Harmonized carbon prices across all markets, driving down the costs of reductions credits for households and businesses. The ability to leverage common infrastructure, reducing implementation costs. Simplified administration, making it easier for industries operating in multiple jurisdictions to comply.

Minister Murray is providing the opening keynote at the upcoming Ontario Cap-and-Trade Forum, which takes place Apr. 26-27 in Toronto.