Pan-Canadian carbon pricing approach

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All Canadian jurisdictions will have put a price on carbon pollution by 2018, according to a speech earlier this month by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The federal government's "pan-Canadian approach" sets a nationwide benchmark, while giving provinces flexibility to choose a cap-and-trade system or a direct price on carbon pollution.

On October 3, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the approach.  He proposed a minimum pricing of $10 per tonne in 2018, rising by $10 each year to $50 per tonne in 2022.  Provinces and territories may choose a direct carbon tax consistent with that pricing, or may elect a cap-and-trade system capable of yielding emissions decreases in line with both Canada's federal target of 30% emissions reduction by 2030, and the reductions expected in jurisdictions that choose a price-based system.  For any jurisdiction failing to adopt price or cap and trade by 2018, the federal government will implement a price.  As announced, the policy will be revenue neutral for the federal government; all revenues will stay in the province or territory where they originated.

In further releases, the government called for a "common scope," meaning that pricing of greenhouse gas emissions will be applied to a common and broad set of sources to ensure effectiveness and minimize interprovincial competitiveness impacts.  The categorization of sources subject to British Columbia's carbon tax is cited as a minimal example of this scope.

The plan calls for a review of the carbon pricing program in 5 years, to ensure its effectiveness, confirm future price increases, and account for actions by other countries.

As of 2017, four provinces will already have carbon pricing compatible with these standards: Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.  Meanwhile, U.S. efforts to regulate carbon emissions from the electric power sector -- through the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan -- remain under judicial challenge.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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