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Canada to introduce national carbon price in 2016, minister says

[OTTAWA] Canada will have a national price on carbon emissions by the end of this year, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says.

The federal government will publish an emissions reduction plan this fall that could include expanded, standardised emissions disclosure requirements for companies, Ms McKenna said in an interview with Danielle Bochove on Bloomberg TV Canada.

Ms McKenna spoke after appearing with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney in Toronto on Friday. Her comments come as provinces work to reach a deal on whether to set a mandatory cross-Canada carbon price, a plan not all provinces support.

"What we want to see is uniformity in terms of a national price, also that we're doing it in a thoughtful way, and provinces and territories need to decide what they're doing with the revenues," Ms McKenna said.

Asked whether she'd force a carbon price on provinces that have resisted a new measure. "I don't like the word forced. I think this is really an opportunity," Ms McKenna said.

"We need a national price on carbon. So that's what we're going to have in the fall."

The government also favours increased emissions disclosure by the private sector, including standardising.

Ms McKenna later wavered when pressed on whether a mandatory national carbon price or mandatory disclosure would be included in her final plan.

"Disclosure is certainly part of the equation," she said, adding that, for industry, "I'm going to promise them a plan and the plan will include carbon pricing."

Businesses "want certainty, they want us to be moving forward in a transparent way," she added.

Canada's premiers agreed in March, along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to have their governments develop an emissions reduction plan and present it by October. The plan would be preceded by study of "carbon pricing mechanisms adapted to each province's and territory's specific circumstances," which premiers interpreted broadly to include things such as carbon capture and storage.

A carbon price is generally considered either a tax or a cap-and-trade program. Four Canadian provinces, making up more than 80 per cent of the country's population, already have or are introducing a carbon price.

Ms McKenna has long been pushing for a national price while sidestepping questions of whether she'd unilaterally impose one. She has regularly said she's "committed" to a price.

Ms McKenna said she met with major Canadian companies taking part in the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, including Air Canada and Suncor Energy Inc.

"They say they understand a price on carbon is the most impressive way to reduce emissions and foster innovation that we need. So it's great. I feel we are really creating the momentum and the stars are aligning and industry is aligning with us."


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