September 24, 2007

Ontario to set up working group on carbon offset protocols

The Ontario government will set up a working group to develop offset protocols that would be compatible with carbon trading systems. The group's members will include experts in emissions trading and representatives from a wide range of relevant interests, including the agriculture, electricity, forestry sectors, offset creators, other governments (including municipalities), First Nations, environmental non-government groups and potential partners.

The initiative reflects the government's belief that providing Ontario communities and industry broad access to cap-and-trade systems is the best approach to achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions at the lowest cost. The Ministry of Environment plans to have pilot carbon offset projects for farms and forests up and running in 2008.

"Carbon offsets are an economic tool to fight global warming by spurring greenhouse gas reductions," said Environment Minister Laurel Broten. "We are tackling climate change on multiple fronts, and working with business and carbon offset partners is a key step to encourage industry to commit to and achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets."

Carbon offsets (i.e. credits that can be sold or traded) are earned through activities such as tree planting, managing farmlands and forested areas or forest conservation. They provide a flexible, market-based approach to achieving real GHG reductions economically. Participants in carbon trading programs can then buy carbon offset credits in order to help meet their reduction targets.

Ontario already has its own emissions trading program for nitrogen oxides (NOX) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Creating a carbon offset working group also confirms the province's support for a national cap-and-trade program as well as its interest in participating in emissions trading programs such as the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

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