The Ontario government is calling all carbon emitters to provide feedback on what sort of “offset” credits will be allowed for the province’s coming cap-and-trade system.
The government announced the consultation Tuesday afternoon, as it seeks inputs on the "criteria, process and administrative requirements" to register worthy offsets, which can be used by a business to meet their obligations under cap and trade.
“The proposed regulation would allow companies participating in the cap and trade program to purchase carbon offset credits for reducing their emissions or removing greenhouse gases emitted by sources not covered by cap and trade,” stated a release. “Offset credits can be purchased for projects such as tree planting, which absorbs carbon dioxide, or manure management, which captures and destroys methane gas.”
Ontario intends to start its cap-and-trade system next year, with the province’s first auction tentatively slated for March, 2017. Under cap and trade, big emitting businesses, as well as fuel distributors, will have to purchase emission allowances equal to their customers’ and facilities’ greenhouse gas emissions. The government will lower the GHG emission ceiling by about 4 per cent annually, reducing the number of credits and increasing the price of those remaining.
The latest consultation was announced while Environment Minister Glen Murray was in Morocco for the latest United Nations climate conference. The announcement was also made on the same day as another cap-and-trade auction was being held by California and Quebec, which is a joint carbon market Ontario plans to link up with in 2018.
California and Quebec joined their cap-and-trade systems in 2014, and had had nothing but sell-out auctions until this year, as the last two carbon credit sales have seen no more than about a third of available allowances sold.
The weak carbon market has raised questions about Ontario’s revenue projections from cap and trade; the Liberal government is banking about $1.9 billion in annual proceeds from the plan. Those proceeds are to be spent on GHG-reducing programs, such as electric car purchase rebates.
The government says that only eight per cent of an emitters’ emission allowances can be offset credits. The proposal is open for a 45-day public review.