Canada on Wednesday unveiled a national carbon emissions market designed to help it meet its climate targets by allowing cities, farmers and others to sell carbon reduction credits to bigger polluters.
Under the scheme, registered participants can generate a credit for each tonne of emissions they reduce or remove from the atmosphere.
Credits can then be sold to others in Canada to help them meet compliance obligations or emissions reduction goals.
“This system gives foresters, farmers, indigenous communities, local authorities and others the opportunity to generate revenue by reducing pollution,” Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault said at a news conference.
However, some environmental groups have called it a step backwards in the fight against climate change.
“Offsets don’t stop carbon from entering the atmosphere and warming the planet, but they make the big polluters look good on paper,” Greenpeace’s Salome Sane said in a statement.
Ottawa has committed to reducing Canada’s carbon emissions by up to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
But several independent reports have said the government is not doing enough to meet the target and is lagging behind its G7 counterparts in cutting emissions.
Its new offset credit system, which allows credits to be generated from projects started after January 1, 2017, would allow landfills to sell credits for things like captured methane.
Farmers could generate credit by storing more carbon in their soil by rotating fields where they grow crops or using cattle feed that produces fewer burps, while forest companies could do the same by thinning diseased trees and managing shrubbery to help reduce forest fires.
“You can’t just go out and plant a tree in your front yard and get a loan,” one officer said at a briefing.
Emission cuts must be new, verifiable and permanent in order to qualify under the program, which will also include direct carbon capture from air once those details are worked out.
The federal system also prohibits double credit trading. The province of Quebec, for example, is already part of the state of California’s cap-and-trade system known as the Western Climate Initiative.
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