March 11, 2008 / 10:27 PM / in 10 years

Harper dismisses green plan conflict

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed suggestions on Tuesday that Ottawa’s new climate change plan conflicts with a more aggressive policy being pursued by British Columbia.

<p>Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper gestures as he speaks to the Business Council of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, March 11, 2008. REUTERS/Lyle Stafford</p>

The federal government is targeting larger emitters with rules on emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for climate change, while the province’s planned carbon tax is aimed more at consumers, Harper said.

“Contrary to some commentary, the national plan and British Columbia’s plan complement each other,” Harper told a business luncheon in Vancouver.

British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell, who was also at the event, echoed Harper’s comments and said Ottawa has told the provinces they can pursue their own plans as long as they do not undermine federal policies.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has expressed concern that Canada could end up with a patchwork of conflicting rules to reduce emissions, which could eventually hurt the economy.

Environmentalists have praised British Columbia’s proposals while panning the federal government‘s.

The Pacific coast province has vowed to cut carbon emissions 33 percent by 2020, while Ottawa has targeted a 20 percent cut.

Last month British Columbia unveiled North America’s first comprehensive carbon tax on fossil fuels, and plans mandatory caps on carbon emissions to set up a carbon credit trading market with several U.S. states.

The Conservative federal government has shunned the carbon tax idea. It has also said it would support setting up a carbon market, but wants to impose less restrictive “intensity” caps on industrial emissions.

Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Rob Wilson

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