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Battle lines drawn on environment at premiers rendezvous in Quebec City


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Battle lines drawn on environment at premiers rendezvous in Quebec City

LEE GREENBERG and MARIANNE WHITE, Canwest News Service

Published: 5 hours ago

 

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach issued a stern warning against a national cap-and-trade program yesterday, underscoring divisions among Canada's 13 premiers and territorial leaders at the outset of a three-day meeting featuring discussions on climate change strategy.

 

Stelmach and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall scuttled any hope of a unified cap-and-trade program, making it clear they consider the policy a thinly disguised attempt to share in the billions generated by western oil and gas.

 

"There's only one inter-regional transfer of wealth in this country and it's called equalization," Stelmach said.

 

Sam the man and the premiers: An actor portraying Samuel de Champlain mingles with provincial premiers and territorial leaders attending the Council of the Federation in Quebec City yesterday.

 

 

"There won't be another one from the province of Alberta. And that's as straight an answer as I can give."

 

"We will fight aggressively against any initiative that would redistribute not just wealth, but opportunity, and threaten our 'have' status," Wall added. "Because (our prosperity) is good for the country."

 

The two Prairie premiers placed themselves squarely against Ontario and Quebec, which recently announced their intention to begin a cap-and- trade program in 2010, as well as B.C. and Manitoba, which have both signed on to cap-and-trade programs under the aegis of the Western Climate Initiatives.

 

The group also includes Quebec and seven U.S. states.

 

Cap-and-trade would require companies exceeding emissions caps to trade for credits from greener firms.

 

Both Wall and Stelmach cast aspersions on the viability of cap and trade, touting instead carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

 

Alberta last week announced a $2-billion investment in CCS, also known as sequestration, a process that aims to store carbon emissions by injecting them into deep geological formations.

 

Most provinces have at least something in common when it comes to climate change - they have better plans to tackle it than Ottawa, according to the report released yesterday by the David Suzuki Foundation.

 

As the premiers gathered for the Council of the Federation, the conservation group noted that almost all provinces are stepping up with strong targets and policies in the absence of federal leadership.

 

The report card shows that British Columbia is leading the pack with its carbon tax.

 

The Suzuki Foundation gives a good rating to Quebec and Ontario for their policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their proposed cap-and-trade system. Manitoba also gets the thumbs-up.

 

Not surprisingly, Alberta rated the worst, with Saskatchewan not far from the bottom.

 

"For Alberta to be moving backward is incomprehensible," said Dale Marshall, climate-change policy analyst with the Suzuki Foundation.

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