Billions of dollars in limbo as incoming Ontario premier vows to nix cap-and-trade
New government to 'provide clear rules for the orderly wind down of the program'
The cancellation of Ontario's cap-and-trade system could leave billions of dollars in carbon credits in limbo and consumers on the hook for pricey home upgrades that were expected to be part of a rebate program.
Jennifer Small, president of a national group that represents the Canadian window and door industry, said it wants an extension to a cancelled rebate program that has paid $500 per opening in which energy-efficient windows are installed.
"We were very surprised by the cancellation and a lot of members are very disappointed," said Small, who is president of the Fenestration Canada trade association.
"Consumers are concerned that they're not going to get their rebate."
These companies face uncertainty, as California and Quebec have stopped accepting trades with Ontario-registered accounts as of June 15, and it's not clear what happens to the previously-issued allowance contracts.
"It certainly has the potential to create a class of stranded assets," lawyer Lisa DeMarco said in an interview.
DeMarco, whose firm DeMarco Allan LLP specializes in climate laws, said there are a number of avenues available to the companies — including corporate suits to recover losses or even a challenge by foreign entities under the North American Free Trade Agreement — but "it really depends on what the government does next."
She said the province might compensate the entities with compliance units in their Ontario-registered accounts, or negotiate a deal.
Ford to take on the federal government
A number of participants in Ontario's past carbon allowance auctions declined to comment on the change of policy until the Ford government provides more detail.
"We look forward to working with the Ontario government to help develop a framework that achieves what's needed for the climate, provides regulatory and investment certainty, and considers the impact for people and businesses."
Premier-designate Ford has said his government will also join Saskatchewan in challenging the federal government's power to impose a carbon tax on provinces.
At the federal level, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said that they want to work with the incoming Ontario government but will continue with their climate initiatives.
McKenna said in a conference call that she looked forward to speaking with her new provincial counterpart.
In the meantime, McKenna said, the federal Liberals will continue "to fight climate change with Ontarians, creating good jobs. . . and growing a clean economy because that's what Ontarians expect and that's what our kids and grandkids deserve."