While the federal government meets with world leaders at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, a number of provincial governments have introduced new policies and recommendations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in their own jurisdictions. British Columbia and Quebec recently joined Ontario and Alberta with the publication of new provincial policies and recommendations on new GHG targets and GHG reduction measures. What remains to be seen is how these new policies and recommendations will be reconciled with international commitments that may be made by the federal government later this week.

BACKGROUND

On November 16, 2015, Ontario released details of its proposed cap-and-trade program. For a review of Ontario’s program, see our November 2015 Blakes Bulletin: Ontario Government Consulting on Proposed Design of the New Cap-and-Trade Program. On November 22, Alberta released its Climate Leadership Plan and the Climate Leadership Report upon which it is based. For a review of Alberta’s plan, see our November 2015 Blakes Bulletin: Just Like Any Good Recipe, Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan Has a Little Bit of Everything. On November 27, British Columbia and Quebec joined suit with the release of the Climate Leadership Team’s final report in B.C. and the announcement of new GHG targets in Quebec.

CLIMATE LEADERSHIP TEAM MAKES RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NEW POLICIES IN B.C.

In April 2015, B.C. Premier Christy Clark created a Climate Leadership Team (CLT) to assist the government in moving its climate agenda forward. On November 27, 2015, the CLT released its final report. This report contains 32 recommendations for consideration by the provincial government and focuses largely on carbon pricing and measures to reduce emissions. Some recommendations of particular note include:

  • Increasing the rate of the existing carbon tax by C$10/year per tonne, commencing in July 2018. There are no recommendations for when the increases should end or how high the tax rate should ultimately go.
  • Expanding the scope of the carbon tax to apply to all GHG emission sources, including non-combustion sources (e.g., fugitive emissions from pipelines and process emissions from industrial plants).
  • Implementing targeted measures to protect emissions-intensive, trade-exposed sectors.
  • Establishing sector-specific GHG reduction goals for the transportation, industrial and built environment sectors.
  • Lowering the provincial sales tax from seven to six per cent, to provide relief for consumers for increased costs arising from the program, in particular, the rising rates of the carbon tax.

The B.C. government has indicated it intends to begin public consultations on the next phase of the Climate Leadership Plan in January 2016. 

QUEBEC ANNOUNCES NEW GHG TARGETS

Also on November 27, Quebec’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, David Heurtel, announced the provincial government’s GHG emissions reduction target of 37.5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. The target is aligned with the commitment the province made alongside the 10 other partners of the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers to reach a regional GHG emissions reduction target of 35–45 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. Quebec was successful in reducing its GHG emissions by eight per cent below 1990 levels in 2012. 

Quebec has been working towards the target of 20 per cent reductions below 1990 levels by 2020 and adopted a cap-and-trade system, which has been in force since January 2013, in order to achieve this goal. The deadline for companies to cover their emissions for the first compliance period was in early November and the Minister confirmed that all emitters subject to the system covered their emissions. Revenues generated through the carbon market are paid into the Quebec’s Green Fund to finance the implementation of the Government’s Climate Change Action Plan.