Canada started a credit system for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions on Wednesday. This is a big part of the country’s plan to cut carbon emissions. The first step was to make a set of rules about how projects can get tradeable credits by collecting gas from landfills.
The government said that protocols are being made for four other areas, such as agriculture and forest management. It will also start making rules for carbon capture technology this summer. Canada’s oil industry, which pollutes a lot, is counting on this technology to cut its pollution.
The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40–45% below 2005 levels by 2030. 7 percent of Canada’s total carbon output comes from greenhouse gas emissions that come from waste, such as from landfills.
The goal of the greenhouse gas offset credit system is to support a domestic carbon offset trading market, and the government says it will give businesses and cities that cut their emissions new ways to make money.
Participants can register projects and get one tradeable offset credit for each tonne of emissions reduced or taken out of the air, as long as their projects follow the federal offset protocols, which spell out exactly which activities are eligible.
The credits can then be sold to companies that are required to limit their carbon pollution or to companies that want to offset their emissions on their own.
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said in a statement, “Starting with landfills, we’re putting in place a market-based mechanism to incentivize businesses and municipalities to invest in the technologies and innovations that cut pollution,”
The government thinks that the price of credits will be close to the price of carbon in Canada, which is currently C$50 per tonne and will rise to C$170 per tonne by 2030.
But groups that care about the environment said that letting polluters buy offset credits instead of cutting their own emissions could hurt climate goals.
Shane Moffatt, a spokesman for Greenpeace Canada, said, “Offsetting doesn’t stop carbon from going into the atmosphere and warming our world. It just keeps it off the books of the big polluters who are really to blame.”