Montreal- Equiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation are delighted that the government of Quebec is going forward with plans to implement a cap-and-trade system as part of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). If well designed, this bill will be one of the most powerful tools the government has to fight climate change. It will establish the province as a leader in the fight against climate change and give rise to a green economy, creating new job opportunities.
However, Equiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation are concerned that some parts of the proposed legislation are still too weak, too flexible, with too many loopholes — e.g., early reduction credits, the decision to not sell all permits at auctions and to allocate a large number of free permits based on the intensity of emissions — that threaten to undermine the environmental performance of the future system and greatly reduce its ability to actually reduce emissions. "Such flexible regulations don't guarantee real reductions. They make the system less transparent and undermine public trust in the whole endeavour," says Karel Mayrand, executive director of the David Suzuki Foundation's Quebec office.
"We need something different: a simple, transparent and rigorous cap-and-trade system where carbon permits or quotas are allocated entirely by auction and where access to offset credits is reduced. We don't want to encounter the same problems as the European system did when it launched," explains Steven Guilbeault, cofounder and deputy executive director of Equiterre.
The two organizations also recommend that the legislation integrate the transportation sector sooner. It is currently only scheduled for inclusion as of 2015, even though it is responsible for the largest share of Quebec's emissions. The organizations also recommend that the bill include industrial process emissions, which don't figure prominently in the current proposal, and that they be linked directly to the targets that the province gave itself to reduce its emissions by 2020.
Lastly, Equiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation are very disappointed to note that certain players in Quebec's industrial sector still act, in 2011, as though a cap-and-trade system will have a negative effect on the Quebec economy. For many years, studies from the academic, economic and environmental sectors have demonstrated the economic benefits, especially in terms of employment, of such an approach.
The brief in full can be read here.