Ontario Joins Western Climate Initiative

Ontario Joins Western Climate Initiative

Ontario, Canada's most populous province, joined the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) last week in a bid to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Ontario, home to Canada's industrial sector, is the fourth province in Canada to join WCI. The regional collaboration that includes seven U.S. states will launch a cap and trade system in 2010 with the goal of reducing emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The group is expected to unveil its cap and trade blueprint this summer.

Ontario has already stated its intent of phasing out coal-fired power plants to help it achieve its goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2014. By 2020, the province wants to reduce emissions 15 percent below 1990 levels.

Ontario's participation adds to the WCI's momentum, according to the government of British Columbia. "The WCI is now the largest climate collaborative in North America, representing approximately 20 percent of the U.S. economy, 73 percent of Canada's economy, and 50 percent of all emissions in our country," said British Columbia Environment Minister Barry Penner in a statement.

The Canadian government, however, already has climate legislation and goals in place that aim to cut carbon intensity -- or emissions as a percentage of production -- but critics say the plan could allow emissions to keep increasing, Reuters reported.

In addition to Ontario and British Columbia, the WCI consists of Manitoba, Quebec, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington. U.S. state governors established the initiative in 2007 because of a perceived lack of climate-related leadership at the federal level.