Alberta is getting ready to launch a constitutional battle if the federal government institutes more aggressive targets than the province’s goals, says Dennis in Point Carbon.

Canada Works on U.S. Compatible Carbon Scheme

April 17, 2009

The environment ministry recently confirmed that it is working on creating domestic greenhouse gas regulations and will seek to harmonize its rules with the United States.

A spokesperson for the ministry says that the ministry is continuing to develop the domestic framework for industrial greenhouse gas emissions, and will work closely with provinces and stakeholders to finalize the Canadian approach.

Canada is under increasing pressure to implement similar greenhouse gas regulations to those of the United States to remain competitive with its largest trading partner.

Dennis Mahony says that one of the ways Canada is likely to fine-tune its regulations is to adopt hard emissions reduction targets over intensity-based ones to be more compatible with the carbon reduction goals of the United States.

Canada has already announced its plans to introduce vehicles emissions standards for new cars that it says will give it the flexibility to harmonize its regulations with the possible future actions of the U.S. government to reduce vehicle emissions.

Observers say that although Canada has waited for the United States to draft carbon legislation before implementing its own program, it may no longer be politically, viable for it to continue to delay a domestic scheme.

However, the federal government may encounter problems in implementing regulations because of resistance from oil-rich Alberta. Alberta has less stringent greenhouse gas reduction targets than the federal government has proposed and is reluctant to take on more stringent goals.

Facilities in Alberta are required to reduce their emissions intensity 12% below 2003-2005 baseline by 2007. It is the largest emitting province with the tar sands representing the fastest growth of emissions, though its electricity sector is the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Alberta is getting ready to launch a constitutional battle if the federal government institutes more aggressive targets than the province’s goals, says Dennis.

"The suggestion of hard caps has rekindled Alberta’s concerns. There may be a constitutional challenge. It brings up the question whether the federal government can put an additional layer of compliance on Alberta."

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