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Sask. government releases ‘discussion paper’ on carbon offset program

The Saskatchewan government is seeking feedback on how its carbon offset program will work for heavy emitters, like Regina's Co-op Refinery. File / Global News

The Saskatchewan government has released a discussion paper to help develop the carbon offset program for its climate change strategy, Prairie Resilience.

Previously, the province said heavy emitters could abide by a variety of market-based compliance measures if their emissions surpassed targets. Potential ideas include paying into a green technology fund, buying carbon offsets, or earning performance credits if their emissions were lower in other measurement periods.

These measures will apply to facilities with more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions as measured in 2017. Facilities with more than 10,000 tonnes of emissions can voluntarily comply. Heavy emitters must be registered by Sept. 1, 2019.

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“Our government is committed to designing an offset program that best serves the needs of the province,” Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said in a statement. “With input from Saskatchewan industries, associations, producer groups and other diverse stakeholders, we can design a system that extends to all sectors to help the province shift to a lower-carbon economy.”

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The province has already shared the discussion paper with a wide variety of groups, including environmental, industry and agricultural organizations, rural and urban municipalities, Crown and government agencies plus regulated emitters.

These groups were asked to provide written submissions and will be meeting with environment officials sometime in June.

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The province says the offset credit program will be open to project developers that use approved methods to reduce, remove or sequester carbon emissions. These credits will be able to be sold to other emitters so they can better comply with emission regulations.

The province adds the offset program will help provide incentives for developing clean technologies, renewable energy and sustainable practices.

In 2009, the Saskatchewan government did introduce a green technology fund for industrial emitters, but it was never implemented.

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