Emitting businesses get out ahead of Canada’s government

Canada’s big greenhouse-gas emitters, as represented by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, are calling for longer-term, more rigid regulation of the country’s emissions. From their “declaration” (PDF):

Canadians have wasted valuable time in a prolonged debate about a national target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that, whatever its original appeal, is no longer realistic or achievable.  This should not excuse us from moving forward today with conviction.

We should be guided not by short-term political expediency but rather what is in Canada’s long-term interest in improving both our environmental and economic performance.  We must get a start now, but we should be clear about the timeframe necessary to accomplish the transition to a clean and low-carbon economy.  Energy-intensive industries have long planning horizons for large capital investments.  They need a stable and predictable policy regime that provides long-term guidance and does not disadvantage investments already made.

The task force that put this together includes companies like Imperial Oil and Suncor and Petro-Canada. Serious emitters with serious money on the table.

Between the lines, they’re saying that the Harper government’s intensity-based targets, which are only spelled out in detail for the next 10 years or so — and aren’t actually in place, being subject to yet-unscheduled public consultations and refinement over a period of many months, if and only if a snap election doesn’t intervene — don’t provide enough certainty to make business do anything. They even call for a carbon tax or a well-designed cap-and-trade system, though they don’t take a firm position on which they prefer.

Change is inevitable, according to the big-business lobby group; they want to get on with it.

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