Getting to 2030: Comparing and coordinating provincial climate policies

Paul Boothe

Released September 2016

Getting to 2030: Comparing and coordinating provincial climate policies analyzes carbon policies in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec by effectiveness and cost. Effectiveness is measured by achievements in emissions reductions overall, and the cost of reductions. It also outlines how the federation can come together to achieve Canada's national 2030 greenhouse gas target. 

The White Paper analyzes provincial carbon policies in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Québec by effectiveness and cost for the periods 2005-2014, 2014-2020, and 2020-2030. Of the four provinces, Ontario has the best track record in reducing emissions and the most ambitious plan going forward to 2030.

While it is possible to compare the past and planned effectiveness of provincial carbon policies, direct comparisons of their costs must be evaluated carefully. The different structure of provincial economies, varying degrees of access to lower-cost emissions reductions, as well as differences in provincial policy ambition all contribute to differences in estimated costs. 

The White Paper outlines that Canada can meet its 2030 target by: 

  1. Establishing a benchmark trajectory for a national carbon price consistent with the 2030 target.
  2. Setting provincial GHG emissions targets consistent with achieving the 2030 national target.
  3. Enacting a federal carbon tax equal to the benchmark national carbon price. Provincial carbon taxes would be credited against federal taxes owed and permitted emissions from qualifying provincial cap-and-trade programs would be tax exempt.
  4. Enabling interprovincial trade in Canadian carbon offsets for compliance with federal and provincial schemes.
  5. Allowing limited access to international emissions markets for high compliance cost emitters.

Dr. Paul Boothe, says, “To achieve Canada’s 2030 target at the lowest cost possible, it is essential to mandate national trading in carbon offsets and allow limited use of international carbon credits. Coordinating federal and provincial policies to achieve Canada’s 2030 target will not be easy, especially given the significant differences between provincial economies and policies. However, Canadian federalism is up to the task, but only if we can call upon the genius that has previously helped us address great national challenges. Climate change is one of those challenges.”

Topics: Economic policy, growth, and strategy, Government investment and innovation