Ontario strikes deal to join climate group: report

Mon Aug 4, 2008 12:07pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario will join a climate-change initiative led by California without adopting that state's tough pollution standards for cars, a newspaper said on Monday.

Premier Dalton McGuinty last week reassured auto industry officials his province won't impose stringent emissions standards championed by a coalition of 10 U.S. states and Canadian provinces even though Ontario planned to join the group, sources familiar with the talks told the Globe and Mail.

In a compromise negotiated by McGuinty, the Western Climate Initiative will allow Ontario to join because it valued the backing of Canada's largest province for its carbon trading policy that would allow industry to buy and sell pollution credits, the sources said.

Embracing California's tailpipe emissions would hurt the auto industry, a big concern for McGuinty at a time when automakers are cutting jobs and closing plants in the province.

Even so, in a letter to the group, McGuinty applauded its members for adopting the California standards, which would require automakers to make their car more fuel-efficient. The Globe and Mail said it had obtained a copy of the letter.

Sources said Ontario was invited to join the group, formed last year, after agreeing to fight climate change in other ways, such as developing less polluting sources of electricity.

Ontario's auto industry, a pillar of the province's economy, has suffered a series of setbacks in recent months. General Motors Corp said it would close its Oshawa, Ontario, truck plant next year, eliminating about 2,400 jobs, while Ford Motor Co has put a hold on plans to start a third shift at its Oakville, Ontario, assembly plant.

(Reporting by Frank McGurty, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

<p>Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty smiles during a news conference after the Council of the Federation at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, July 18, 2008. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger</p>