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BC will keep cap and trade schedule says minister

The British Columbia government is moving ahead with a plan to start carbon trading in 2012, environment minister Terry Lake said today. *

"We're continuing on our schedule," said Lake, adding that B.C. has been a leader in the Western Climate Initiative.

The WCI brings together several Canadian provinces and American states to form a cap and trade system with the goal of reducing carbon emissions. B.C. is scheduled to begin regional emissions trading in 2012.

"We're working with California and Ontario and Quebec and our other WCI partners," said Lake. "The plan hasn't changed. We're moving forward and working with them closely."

The Vancouver Sun reported on April 14 that B.C. had become a WCI "straggler" and had failed to commit to entering the cap and trade system. The story quoted Lake saying cabinet hadn't had a chance to discuss the issue and that the province might delay entry or consider other options.

"As a new government we obviously want to look at where we're going moving forward," he told The Tyee today. "We've got to build a strong relationship with California. They're moving forward. We are working with them."

The province will also keep its carbon tax, but hasn't made a decision on whether to increase it after 2012, he said. "At this point that's the future, and of course that's part of the tax policy and finance has a lot to say about that," he said.

"We're very proud of our carbon tax," he said, noting that Australia is looking at introducing something similar. "We've been recognized as leaders in North America."

* Paragraph clarified, May 4.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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