California tables new cap-and-trade plan that jumps ahead of Quebec and Ontario

California jumps over Quebec with carbon plan

MONTREAL — California’s Senate proposed a new and more ambitious carbon credit cap-and-trade system this week, challenging Ontario and Quebec to do the same or get left behind.

Quebec and California have a linked carbon credit market that expires at the end of 2020. Ontario held its first carbon credit auction in March and intends to link to the California-Quebec system in 2018.

Both provinces, however, will need to adapt to California’s proposed reforms if they want to continue working with the state after 2020, said Jessica Green, professor of environmental studies at New York University.

“It’s a big change,” she said Wednesday in an interview about California’s new bill. “It’s a decisive statement that’s saying: ‘If you want to play with us, you have to play by our rules and those rules are getting stronger all the time.'”

The new California plan provides for an increase in the minimum price for one ton of carbon dioxide or equivalent greenhouse gas to US$20 and creates a ceiling of US$30. Every year the minimum price would increase by US$5 and the ceiling by US$10.

The current market price for a ton of carbon equivalent is US$13.50.

Carbon offsets would no longer be permitted in the new bill and companies that emit greenhouse gases would need to purchase new credits every year.

Moreover, the new plan eliminates the possibility of acquiring free carbon credits.

A cap-and-trade system for carbon credits allows companies to purchase the right to emit greenhouse gasses.

In Quebec, all businesses that emit 25,000 metric tons a year of carbon dioxide or its equivalent have to comply with the system, except fossil fuel companies, which are only scheduled to comply starting in 2018.

Quebec currently holds joint auctions with California every quarter and the province has delegated the administration of them to California’s regulator.

“It’s an identical system right now,” said Danny Cullenward, an energy economist and lawyer who advised the California Senate on the bill.

He said Quebec and Ontario will still be allowed to link to California’s new plan, but the provinces will have to match the minimum carbon credit price floor.

“If somebody wants to link to this new market they have to have a comparable minimum carbon price,” he said in an interview. “It would be a terrible idea if we set up an ambitious climate plan and we linked to a partner that was not all that ambitious.”

Gary Wheeler, spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, said in an email that the proposal is one of several early drafts put forward by different California state senators.

“None have gone through the legislative process and there are significant discussions that need to happen before anything is finalized,” Wheeler said.

He said Ontario is committed to partnering with Quebec and California “and we will all be working together to determine the most responsible, effective way to keep lowering emissions in the next period after 2020.”

Representatives from the Quebec government did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

If passed by California legislators, the new system would begin in January 2021, but there is no guarantee it will be adopted, Cullenward said.

“It’s too soon to tell, and (passing the bill) will be a significant lift, but there are positive signs,” he said.

Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press

Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RDN bylaw allows people experiencing homelessness to camp overnight in some parks

Board of directors unanimously passes park use regulations bylaw

RDN board passes budget but concerned about ‘enormous’ costs

Regional District of Nanaimo tax requisitions will increase $34-$56 this year

Nanaimo high school jazz students unite for JazzFest

Vancouver-raised jazz vocalist Laila Biali will join students on the Port Theatre stage

Commute in Nanaimo slowed as SUV goes up onto highway barrier, gets stuck

Accident happened at 5 p.m. on old Island Highway and Highland Boulevard

Seven years later, Nanaimo’s animal trapping bylaw still isn’t approved

Animal trapping bylaw requires provincial approval before it can be adopted

Rail disruptions expected to continue after new protest sites emerge

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

COLUMN: Forestry no longer close to top of B.C.’s economy

Our reactions to a forestry downturn reflect the past, not the present

Caught on camera: Police release video of man who allegedly stole seaplane in Vancouver

Police say the man broke into the Harbour Air terminal and then got into one of the seaplanes in the harbour

51 health professionals send letter to Trudeau, Horgan panning northern B.C. pipeline

They point to studies about the health and climate change risks from pipeline

Fake meat and a latte? Starbucks adds Beyond Meat in Canada

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so

Groundhogs got it wrong: spring isn’t coming soon, Weather Network says

The only part of B.C. to warm up early will be Victoria

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Most Read