Newly re-appointed federal Minister of Environment Peter Kent signalled that the Canadian government will begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired electricity and oilsands projects. Minister Kent stated that regulations for coal-fired plants will arrive first, with rules for oilsands to follow later this year. For now, a carbon tax or cap-and-trade plan will not form part of the regulations. Instead, the federal government will issue “flexible guidelines” that allow individual sectors to meet their targets through measures such as technological improvements.

Minister Kent indicated that there will be an accommodation period for oilsands operations, and that regulations will not be a “hardline of sudden conversion.” As well, Minister Kent noted that the rules may not necessarily adopt all the provisions of last year’s proposed coal regulations, which starting in 2015, would have forced the shut-down of coal plants over 45 years old if upgrades could not bring down plant emissions.

Minister Kent indicated that federal regulations are needed to meet Canada’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, the same target provided in the United States by the Obama administration.