In his first interview after the federal election and his re-appointment as Environment Minister, Peter Kent has set out in broad terms the federal government's plans for greenhouse gas (GHG) controls.
The government remains committed to cutting GHG emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020, but it will not implementing either a cap-and-trade or carbon tax regime. Instead, the government will continue with its pre-election plan to regulate on a sector-by-sector basis.
The government has identified the coal-fired electric generation sector and the transportation industry as the first to be regulated. This is consistent with the priorities laid out last January by Minister Kent. He stated at that time that the new regulations on coal-fired electricity would be in place by 2015, and while there has been no update on that timetable, there is no indication that it has slipped.
For further information on Canada's Copenhagen compliance plans, see here.
He went on to state that next industry to be regulated will be oil sands. He stated that regulations would be ready later this year and would be phased in gradually. No further details were provided.
Reaction from the Alberta government was swift – Alberta finance minister Lloyd Snelgrove stated that Alberta had been proactive on the issue of GHG emissions, and that Ottawa's help wasn't needed. He expressed a particular concern that the federal government would step in and regulate what he termed a provincial resource, adding unnecessary cost and duplication in regulation. Meanwhile, Alberta energy minister Ron Liepert stated that environmental monitoring in the oilsands was second to none and that too much focus was being placed on what was not being done rather than what was being done.
Kent also added that the federal government values Alberta's input, but that it had an obligation to step in where there were perceived loopholes in environmental regulation (citing water monitoring in the Athabasca basin as an example).
We will continue to report on developments as the federal government develops its approach to GHG regulation.