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Canada

Canada

Emissions trading test

The British Columbia government is about to launch the BC Greenhouse Gas Emissions Offset Project. The pilot programme is being developed to allow firms to voluntarily invest in greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets which they can subsequently trade. The project could lead to national GHG offset programmes if it proves successful at encouraging the market to systematically reduce greenhouse gases through investment in energy efficient generation and renewables.

In Canada, the British Columbia government is about to launch a potentially revolutionary trading system for greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets, known as the BC Greenhouse Gas Emissions Offset Project. The pilot programme is being developed with input from industry and national and regional government, among others, to allow firms to voluntarily invest in GHG offsets which they can subsequently trade.

The project, one of the first of its kind, could lead to national GHG offset programmes if it proves successful at encouraging the market to systematically reduce greenhouse gases through investment in energy efficient generation and renewables.

"Our working group is putting the final touches on things before we make a formal announcement," says Warren Bell of the BC Ministry of Employment and Investment. "It is a pilot, and is primarily a learning exercise." He adds the ultimate aim would be for a national "open market trading" system -- as already used for other pollutants in the US and elsewhere in the absence of a cap on total emissions. Such emissions trading is expected to play a major role if and when national and international GHG emission caps are introduced, as being proposed in the Kyoto negotiations this December.

"In the pilot project, what we'll be doing will be trying to develop the kind of conventions and documentation that are required for companies to be comfortable entering into contracts with each other for the ownership of these credits," Bell says. "Also, for governments to be confident that the emissions reductions are real."

Bell is hoping to for an agreement among the major players this month and a launch shortly afterwards. The federal government is represented on the working group by Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada, and Industry Canada. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, electric utilities including TransAlta Utilities and others are interested, with industry largely represented by GEMCO, the Greenhouse Emissions Management Consortium, a group of eight energy companies. The Alberta government is particularly interested, as well as the province of Saskatchewan.

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