Forestry industry might see opportunities under cap and trade

In the face of the likely rise in costs, Ontario's new cap and trade system may also present opportunities for northern residents, said Warren Mabee, director of Queen's Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy.

Planting trees, managing forests could offset emissions

Ontario's new cap and trade system will likely result in higher costs for northern Ontarians, but a Queen's University environmental expert says the forestry industry may stand to benefit. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

In the face of the expected rise in costs, Ontario's new cap and trade system may also present opportunities for northern residents, said Warren Mabee, director of Queen's Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy.

Mabee thinks there may be a chance for the forest industry to adapt and benefit by selling carbon offsets.

"The fact that planting trees and managing forests can soak up carbon, can actually offset some of those emissions that are happening elsewhere may create a business opportunity for some of the forest industries or community forests around the north," Mabee said.

On the other hand, Mabee said higher fuel and heating costs may be harder for northerners to absorb.

Colder winters, longer driving distances for northerners

He said that although there will be a larger impact on northerners because of colder winters and the need for gas in rural areas, he thinks that the new costs will be manageable for most households.

Mabee also said it's possible that the government will introduce new programs to make the transition easier for those hit hardest.

Despite the costs, Mabee said he believes the cap and trade program is important. 

"I think that this is a necessary step because what it's doing is that it's pointing out how reliant we are on fossil fuels right now, and it provides people with a little bit of economic incentive to change," Mabee said.   

Income, rather than location, to be a factor in costs, says expert

Chris Ragan, an economics professor at McGill University, and chair of Canada's eco-fiscal commission thinks the economic impact on households will have less to do with where you live, than it does with how much you make.

"If you measure the impact as a percentage of household income, It's actually a bigger impact on lower income households," Ragan said.

Ragan said this is why the Alberta government is choosing to issue rebates to lower income households as part of its carbon tax program.

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