Ontario joins U.S. carbon initiative

Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:45pm EDT
 
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Ontario will join the Western Climate Initiative, a planned U.S.-based regional carbon credit trading pact aimed at curbing global warming.

Ontario is the fourth province to join the effort that includes California and six other U.S. states, and was established by U.S. state governors tired of what they saw as the Bush administration's inaction on climate change.

Canadian environmentalists hailed the announcement as evidence that provincial leaders were losing faith in Ottawa's stand on climate change, but federal Environment Minister John Baird said he saw no problem with Ontario's decision.

The WCI, which has set a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, is expected to unveil its plan for capping carbon emissions and trading offset credits next month.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has been a strong critic of Ottawa's plans to fight climate change, and said at a meeting of premiers in Quebec City on Friday that people were tired of waiting for action.

"Of course there is a system put in place by the federal government, but obviously that doesn't satisfy all Canadians so we see provinces making their own efforts to assume their responsibilities as global citizens," McGuinty said, speaking in French.

The province of Quebec is a member of the WCI along with British Columbia and Manitoba. The U.S. states involved are California, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Several other U.S. and Mexican states hold observer status with the group.

"Ontario is doing some great things to combat global warming, and I welcome them, said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has spearheaded the WCI efforts in the United States.   Continued...

 
<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>