Number of carbon control plans a concern, Canada West says

It will be a headache for business if the Western provinces end up with a variety of different rules for controlling carbon emissions, the head of a Calgary-based think-tank says.

It will be a headache for business if the western provinces end up with a variety of different rules for controlling carbon emissions, the head of a Calgary-based think tank says.

Recent moves by B.C. to adopt a carbon tax, Alberta and Saskatchewan agreeing to work on "carbon capture," and Manitoba and B.C. working on a carbon cap and credit-trading system had Canada West Foundation president Roger Gibbins wondering how industry will cope.

"If they're confronting different emission standards, different timelines, different expectations about what they can do or should do, it means that it's that much more difficult to move investment, move people, even move equipment round the region in a way that makes optimal economic sense,"  Gibbins said in an interview this week with CBC News.

The different approaches to controlling greenhouse gas emissions came out of the western premiers' conference in Prince Albert, Sask., last week.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall tried to highlight what the premiers have in common, saying they may have different ways of dealing with climate change, but they all have the same general goals.

"Each province here is committed to reducing emissions and dealing with this environmental issue," he said.

However, Saskatchewan has not expressed support for carbon taxes, which would boost gasoline prices, or the cap-and-trade system, which allows companies that stay under the cap to sell credits to those who don't.

Carbon capture, meanwhile, involves storing carbon dioxide in caverns underground. Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas that scientists believe is causing the Earth to heat up.

"There's a lot of difference, clearly a lot of difference, among the western provinces," Gibbins said.

Gibbins worries that Western Canada is too small an economic region, with about as many people as Chicago, to be so fragmented.

For companies that operate in all the provinces, four sets of rules are going to be a headache, he said.

The bottom line is the western provinces should find a way to streamline their policies, he said, adding that the federal government needs to take more of a leadership role.