Ontario ups the ante on cap-and-trade

I hinted in two articles over the past two weeks (here and here) that Ontario was considering this move. Now I’ve got confirmation. Premier Dalton McGuinty put out a press release today announcing that the government is seriously exploring the idea of joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, which is an agreement between nine states in the U.S. northeast and mid-Atlantic to establish a regional cap-and-trade program and emissions trading system. McGuinty went further and also said the province is looking at the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative, an alliance of five western states that includes California. The goal of these initiatives, at least to start, is to limit the emissions that come from power producers.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York Governor Elliott Spitzer and others encouraged Ontario to consider participation, which would bypass a Canadian government that seems intent on not having a national cap-and-trade scheme. Schwarzenegger called Ontario’s announcement “terrific news,” while Spitzer said he would “enthusiastically welcome” Ontario as a partner.

Now, “exploring” and “considering” is not joining, but this announcement — made so publicly — sends a direct message to the Harper government and gives Ontario an avenue to explore if Ottawa continues to refuse the idea of a cap-and-trade scheme. Hopefully other provinces will follow, as CIBC economist Jeff Rubin has predicted.

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