February 17, 2016 4:14 pm

Ontario promises to reveal details of its cap and trade plan within weeks

Pollution from Lambton Generating Station, a coal fired power plant.

The Canadian Press/Stephen C. Host

TORONTO – Ontario’s Liberal government is promising all the details of its cap and trade plan to put a price on carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will soon be public.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray says the government is wrapping up consultations with manufacturers and large polluters on what he admits is a very complex design for the cap and trade initiative.

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Murray says there will legislation and a regulation that will spell out details of the plan, which will impose pollution limits on companies but allow them to buy credits if they exceed their limit or sell their credits to other polluters if they’re under.

READ MORE: Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec join forces on cap-and-trade system

Ontario plans to join existing cap and trade markets in Quebec and California, which allow companies in each jurisdiction to buy and sell emission credits, or allowances, from each other.

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown says the Liberals have held several photo-ops to tout their cap and trade plan, but still haven’t released any details.

During question period, Brown said Ontarians deserve to know exactly how much the plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions will cost them every year.

READ MORE: 5 things to know about cap-and-trade legislation

“We have asked to see an economic analysis of cap and trade – nothing,” Brown told the legislature. “We’ve asked for details on carbon credits – nothing. We’ve even asked the most basic question of what it will cost Ontario families in increased costs for food and heating.”

Last year’s budget shows the Liberals expect to generate $1.3 billion in revenue from cap and trade in 2017-18, its first full year of operation in Ontario.

Premier Kathleen Wynne called cap and trade “an economic opportunity and a moral imperative” as she announced a $100 million program – funded by future revenues from the plan – to develop clean technologies in Ontario and help create jobs.

READ MORE: How Ontario’s cap-and-trade could affect gas pumps and maybe beer taps

“We’re advancing on the cap and trade revenues,” she said. “It will be back-filled by those revenues once the first auction is in place.”

Murray said Ontario plans to hold its first auction for polluters to buy greenhouse gas allowances, or caps, early next year, but the government isn’t sure how much money will be generated.

“We don’t know exactly, but we expect that in 2017 the first auction, which will be a free-standing Ontario auction, will be in the neighbourhood of $300 million, and then future auctions will eventually be linked with California and Quebec and numbers will grow from there,” he said.

Manitoba also signed a deal to join in the cap and trade plan with Ontario and Quebec, but will limit it to 20 large polluters in the province.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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