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McGuinty says cap and trade is coming to North America Add to ...

Ontario and Quebec are convinced that a cap and trade system will be introduced soon in North America, and the two provinces are determined to prepare for what they consider to be the inevitable.

"Cap and trade is coming to North America. It's not whether; the only question is when," said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who was in Quebec City for the third joint cabinet meeting between the two provinces.

Even though Ottawa has expressed little interest in setting up a cap and trade system in Canada, the two provinces along with Manitoba and British Columbia intend to move forward with their proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. They are working with a number of U.S. states as members of the Western Climate Initiative to set up a cap and trade system.

Mr. McGuinty insisted on the need during the Wednesday joint cabinet meeting to discuss how the provinces can prepare their respective businesses to be ready for the implementation of a cap and trade system.

Under the proposed plan the provinces and states determine a ceiling of greenhouse gas emissions. Companies who exceed the limit will be required to buy credits on the carbon market to off-set the amounts of gas they will emit into the atmosphere. The scheme will be costly for polluting companies and become a trade advantage for the others.

The Ontario Premier said it was necessary to make sure the system is "done in a way that was less intrusive (for companies) and that it is as smooth as we can possibly make it."

The two provinces have adopted legislation to set up a cap and trade system and will soon unveil the regulations that will govern the new system.

But the Premiers refused to say when a cap and trade system would be in place. "We want to demonstrate resolve without recklessness....We want to help our businesses not hinder our businesses," Mr. McGuinty said.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest predicted that the oil spill in the United States, which has focused public attention back on the environment after undergoing a recession, will once again draw attention on the need to fight climate change.

"It would be a mistake to think that cap and trade is off the agenda," Premier Charest said during a joint news conference on Tuesday. He noted that the American Power Act currently before U.S. legislators has sections in it that provide for a cap and trade system for certain industrial sectors and the energy sector.

"It would be a mistake also to just assume that it's off the table in the United States because it's unpopular. It is not off the table," he said. "Europe is in cap and trade. We agree that we don't want to be following, we want to be in the lead on this."

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