Canada’s Conservative government has created a national plan to trade GHG emission permits on the open market. Environment Minister Jim Prentice has released two draft papers — open to public comment for 60 days — that explain which projects qualify for carbon credits, how companies can apply for certification, and how emissions will be tracked, among other things. Prentice said that his government will not put a price on carbon, preferring to let the market decide. He added that, in time, the Canadian system could merge with the systems in the US, Mexico, and possibly the EU. The Canadian carbon market is scheduled for implementation in 2011, but trading could begin earlier than that.

“Projects that could qualify for offsets span the economy,” said Prentice, “from farmers using reduced or no-till techniques to store more carbon dioxide in their fields, to wind turbines producing clean electricity using only the wind, to landfill sites that are able to turn captured methane into usable fuel.”

The Conservatives are promising to cut Canada’s GHG emissions by 2% by 2020, using 1990 as a baseline, but many analysts and environmentalists — as well as government advisory groups — feel the country cannot meet those targets.

Earlier this week, Prentice was characterized as a bully by the David Suzuki Foundation for the role he’s playing at the international climate talks. Canada’s minority position holds that emerging nations must make deep carbon cuts before any international climate change agreement can be signed — a position at odds with most developed nations. (Source: AFP, June 10, Canwest News Service, June 9, 2009).

Contact: Frederic Baril, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of the Environment, (819) 997-1441, www.ec.gc.ca.