Quebec flies in face of Canada to launch its cap and trade

While Canada may have announced it wants to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, the French-speaking province of Quebec announced its cap and trade scheme to combat its own greenhouse gas emissions.

Where Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are some 25 percent above 1990 levels when its Kyoto target should be 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, Quebec`s actual emissions are 2.5 percent below 1990 levels, all the more remarkable as the province has approximately 95 percent hydro-electricity power-generation which means that fuel switching to cleaner sources of fuel is not an option.

Instead so-called ‘final mile’ emissions reductions, the ones that are hard to achieve, have been implemented.

In January, Quebec will commence a transitory pilot-phase to its cap and trade scheme under the California-led Western Climate Initiative scheduled to be rolled-out in full in 2013.

In the initial phases of the scheme, industries producing 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year will be included in the scheme and, as of 2015 and similar to the original proposals of the Waxman-Markey legislation defeated in the US, fuel distributors for transportation and buildings that emit over 25,000 tonnes or more of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions will also be included.

Emissions allowances will be ‘grandfathered’ or provided free in the first instance and will then be capped by 1 percent and then 2 percent until 2015.

Companies emitting more than their allowances must invest either into clean technology or buy emissions credits.

Liberal Prime Minister Jean Charest has committed to reducing Quebec’s provincial greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, in keeping with Canada’s Kyoto Protocol target that Stephen Harper’s Conservative government abandoned in 2007.