Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Will the environment be an issue in the next Canadian federal election?

Over the last few weeks we have seen major developments in environmental policy at the state level in the U.S. On August 15, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a coalition of seven northeastern states, introduced a model rule governing the operation of a cap-and-trade system for electricity related greenhouse gases (GHGs).

In early August, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed with U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair to cooperate in transatlantic emission trading. This would eventually see California companies buying or selling carbon permits to or from U.K.—or even European Union—companies.

And just last week, Schwarzenegger signed a historic carbon-emission deal with the Democrat-controlled California state senate. The California deal includes a provision to establish a carbon market. It is looking like this move will strengthen the Terminator’s bid to win this November’s gubernatorial election.

Didn’t I say on August 13 that environmentalism is becoming part of the new mainstream, especially among moderate conservatives?

Does this have implications for Canada? You bet it does. The Harper Conservatives are looking to shore up support among several critical constituencies, among which is the pro-Kyoto crowd. Was I dreaming, or did I hear on the early-morning CBC that the Conservatives are pondering the idea of regulating GHGs?

It looks like they may have no choice. The former Liberal government, in one of its last legislative moves, added carbon dioxide, the principal GHG, to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). This leaves the Tories with three choices.

I’ll deal with these in my next post. Stay tuned.

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