Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, at the Council of the Federation meeting in Moncton this week, missed another opportunity to claim credit for Canada’s biggest emission reduction in recent memory. Apparently feeling safer talking about closing Ontario’s coal plants by 2014 (seven years from now) as that province’s contribution to addressing climate change, McGuinty decided not to mention the biggest story on the climate change front, and one that has vaulted Ontario way into the lead on the file: that Ontario’s power sector greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 15 million tonnes less in 2006 than they were in 2003.
To his credit, though, Ontario’s premier did call for a cap-and-trade system. Hopefully he knows that his province’s 15 million tonne reduction would be worth $225 million if carbon were $15 a tonne.
Alberta premier Ed Stelmach opposes the trading system. He should rethink his position. If the system were credible, it would allow forward purchasing of carbon credits. An Alberta consortium could use this revenue to finance a plant that uses nuclear heat to both generate power and steam bitumen out of the oil sands. If the consortium includes an oil sands operator, then nobody loses.
The Ontario example proves that nuclear is the only viable technology capable of reducing fossil emissions on a grand scale. More Canadian provinces need to look at it. Especially Alberta.