In Ontario, carbon auctions creating a green windfall

Tesla electric vehicles. Image: JWN

Ontario expects to generate $2 billion from auctions of carbon allowances in 2018-19 which it will put toward everything from tree planting to high-speed rail.

Canada’s most populous province netted $2.4 billion from five auctions of emission allowances through fiscal 2017-18 after launching the program in 2016, according to budget documents from the government Wednesday.

The cap-and-trade program sets a limit on greenhouse gas output and businesses by offsetting allowances at auctions. In January, Ontario linked its carbon market with Quebec and California, creating the second-largest carbon market.

The government expects to cut 18.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by 2020, compared with a reduction of 12.7 million tonnes under a carbon tax, research by consultants cited in the budget shows.

The proceeds from the carbon allowance auctions must be dedicated toward reducing emissions, which included energy audits and free smart thermostats for 140,000 people in the province in the first year.

Next fiscal year’s plans include $160 million for promoting electric vehicles, including subsidies for purchases, $600 million for green transit and $25 million for preserving agricultural land and forests.

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