Ontario promises to reveal details of its cap and trade plan within weeks

TORONTO – Ontario’s Liberal government promises all the details of its cap and trade plan to put a price on carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will soon be public.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray said Wednesday that the government is wrapping up consultations with manufacturers and large polluters on what he admits is a very complex design for the cap and trade initiative.

“The next step will be proposed legislation, which will answer most of questions that are there, and then we also have to post a regulation which will get into even more detail,” said Murray. “Within the next couple weeks you should see just about everything you wanted to know about cap and trade but were afraid to ask.”

Cap and trade imposes pollution limits on companies but allows them to buy credits or allowances if they exceed their emissions limit or sell their credits to other polluters if they come in under their allowance.

Ontario plans to join existing cap and trade markets in Quebec and California, which allow companies in each jurisdiction to buy and sell emission credits, or allowances, from each other. Manitoba also signed on to join in the cap and trade plan with Ontario and Quebec, but will limit it to 20 large polluters in the province.

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said the Liberals have held several photo-ops to tout their cap and trade plan, but still haven’t released any details.

During question period, Brown said Ontarians deserve to know exactly how much the plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions will cost them every year.

“We have asked to see an economic analysis of cap and trade — nothing,” he said.

“We’ve asked for details on carbon credits — nothing. We’ve even asked the most basic question of what it will cost Ontario families in increased costs for food and heating.”

Last year’s budget shows the Liberals expect to generate $1.3 billion in revenue from cap and trade in 2017-18, its first full year of operation in Ontario.

Premier Kathleen Wynne called cap and trade “an economic opportunity and a moral imperative” as she announced a $100 million program — funded by future revenues from the plan — to develop clean technologies in Ontario and help create jobs.

“We’re advancing on the cap and trade revenues,” she said. “It will be back-filled by those revenues once the first auction is in place.”

Murray said Ontario will hold its first auction for polluters to buy greenhouse gas allowances early next year, but isn’t sure how much money will be generated.

“We don’t know exactly, but we expect that in 2017 the first auction, which will be a free-standing Ontario auction, will be in the neighbourhood of $300 million, and then future auctions will eventually be linked with California and Quebec and numbers will grow from there,” he said.

Wynne quickly corrected herself during Wednesday’s announcement after she accidentally referred to the government’s “crap” and trade plan.

“If you print that you’re gonna be in trouble,” she laughed in a warning to reporters.

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