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TORONTO Ontario's first cap and trade auction is a crucial step on the road to climate protection and cleaner air, the David Suzuki Foundation said.

"We've long supported the principle of polluter pays," said Foundation climate change policy analyst Gideon Forman. "Cap and trade embodies that principle so we're very gratified to see its implementation."

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The March 22 auction sold greenhouse gas allowances worth over $472 million, the government said Monday. Under law, these funds must be spent on greenhouse gas reduction projects such as home energy retrofits, expansion of electric vehicle charging stations, public transit and social housing retrofits. Retrofits improve homes' energy efficiency, lowering energy use and saving residents money.

The cap and trade revenue will also help First Nations set up renewable microgrids and reduce diesel fuel use in electricity production.

"Burning less diesel is crucial to improving air quality and addressing climate change," Forman said. "It's especially important in First Nations communities, where living conditions are often deplorable. Perhaps the move away from diesel is another aspect of reconciliation."

The March auction was one of four planned for 2017. Total annual revenue from the program is expected to be $1.9 billion.

"The importance of pricing carbon can't be overstated," Forman said. "The atmosphere has long been used as a free garbage dump. It is encouraging to see Ontario putting an end to this practice and spending nearly $2 billion a year in auction revenue on climate change mitigation."

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For more information:
Gideon Forman, Climate Change Policy Analyst
David Suzuki Foundation
647-703-5957

April 4, 2017
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2017/04/first-ontario-cap-and-trade-auction-will-lower-emissions-save-money/