Cap-and-Trade and Carbon Pricing in Nova Scotia | Ecology Action Centre

Cap-and-Trade and Carbon Pricing in Nova Scotia


In November, 2016, the Nova Scotia Government announced that they would implement a cap-and-trade system in Nova Scotia by 2018 to comply with the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. In March 2016, Nova Scotia Environment released a discussion paper titled Nova Scotia Cap and Trade Program Design Options, which was open for written comment between March 8 and March 31, 2017. In October 2016, Nova Scotia passed enabling legislation to amend the Environmnent Act to include references to the cap-and-trade program. 

EAC, although encouraged by the movement toward a carbon pricing framework in Nova Scotia, was concerned by the direction outlined in the discussion paper. At this time, we are not confident that the system as-proposed will be effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or equitable for low- and middle-income Nova Scotians. We released an official position statement detailing these concerns in March 2017 and released a policy brief before we appeared before the Law Amendments Committee at Province House in October 2017. 

On November 14, 2018, the Nova Scotia Government released final regulations and further details about the system design, emissions caps, auctioning and long-term goals of the Cap and Trade system, to take effect January 1, 2019. 


Key EAC Documents on Cap and Trade in Nova Scotia:


For the last several years, EAC has been an active voice in the dialogue leading up to Nova Scotia’s commitment to implement a cap-and-trade system. We worked with stakeholders and allies to identify shared principles for equitable carbon pricing. We also hosted two multi-stakeholder Carbon Pricing Forums to explore principles and design features for carbon pricing in Nova Scotia. We continued to engage with a diversity of stakeholders in Nova Scotia through our Capping Carbon | Trading Talk six-part panel series, and online discussions using #Capping Carbon. We also released research detailing the potential of linking Nova Scotia and New Brunswick's carbon pricing systems to the Western Climate Initiative.

Scoping Study of the Potential Linkage of NB and NS to the WCI

Principles for Equitable Carbon Pricing

April 2016 Open Letter: Groups Agree on Core Principles for NS Carbon Pricing

In advance of Nova Scotia’s 2016/17 Budget, a diversity of thirteen groups have come together to urge provincial government to develop a carbon pricing system for Nova Scotia based on five key principles: effective; fair; transparent; efficient; and economically sustainable. The groups represented labour, anti-poverty, environmental, and social justice communities across the province.

"Done right, a made-in-Nova Scotia approach to carbon pricing can help us target the sources of pollution our current laws are missing, while also giving us new financial resources we can use to help vulnerable people and invest in our communities."

                     Open Letter

Carbon Pricing Forums

May 2016 Carbon Pricing Forum

The first Forum on Carbon Pricing Options for Nova Scotia was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Monday, May 9th. It brought together close to forty leaders from business, civil society, First Nations, and academia to discuss what a “made in Nova Scotia” approach to carbon pricing might look like.

Participants sought to reach agreement about what a carbon price might accomplish and how resulting revenues might be used. The intent of the Forum was not to discuss the specific details and mechanisms of how the system would operate, but to highlight shared priorities and identify key opportunities for carbon pricing in the province.

Participants agreed that carbon pricing should be: effective at reducing carbon emissions; fair, both socially and economically; supportive of the transition to the green economy; transparent and efficient; and politically viable. 

                                First Forum Outcomes 

July 2016 Carbon Pricing Forum

On July 22nd, 2016 approximately sixty stakeholders met at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax for the second Forum on Carbon Pricing Options for Nova Scotia. The Forum was co-convened by the Atlantica Centre for Energy, Cape Breton University, the Ecology Action Centre, the Maritimes Energy Association, and Saint Mary’s University.

At the end of the Forum, the group agreed that the next step was for the five co-convening organizations to convey the deliberations of the Forum and the sentiments of the group to Premier Stephen McNeil with an offer to continue fostering a public dialogue on carbon pricing within the Province.

The group was able to collectively recognize the following key requirements for further discussion on carbon pricing in Nova Scotia: acknowledge significant prior achievements in carbon reduction by the province of Nova Scotia; create a vision for future goals on carbon reduction; convene a broader dialogue on those goals and resulting outcomes; acknowledge that some movement is taking place at the national level on carbon pricing; and convene a discussion about the allocation of costs and benefits of carbon pricing
policy in Nova Scotia. 

                             Second Forum Outcomes

Capping Carbon | Trading Talk

March - June 2017 A panel series on developing Nova Scotia’s cap-and-trade system

We continued to engage with a diversity of stakeholders in Nova Scotia through our Capping Carbon | Trading Talk six-part panel series, and online discussions using #Capping Carbon, from March through June, 2017. The panels were moderated by Dr. Meinhard Doelle, Professor of Law, and Lisa Mitchell, Executive Director of East Coast Environmental Law.  The series was co-sponsored by: Clean Foundation, Dalhousie's College of Sustainability, Dalhousie Student Union's Sustainability Office, QUEST Nova Scotia, and Acadia University.

To date, the Nova Scotia Government has not conducted public consultations or information sessions about the proposed cap-and-trade system, although a group of industry, academic and NGO stakeholders have been consulted. This panel series, and the previous Carbon Pricing Forums, stand as the only public engagement on carbon pricing in Nova Scotia since the design of the system was proposed.

Throughout the series we have heard a number of recommendations and concerns regarding cap-and-trade design and the need for various complementary policies. 

"Cap-and-trade, if designed well, may prove to be a valuable policy tool in achieving greenhouse gas emissions reductions, green economic growth, and greater equity in Nova Scotia. This program will likely be in place for decades to come, and it’s important that we don’t create an ineffective, harmful system simply to meet minimum federal requirements. 

We need to get this right."


                   Summary and Discussion                         Press Release        


Session What We Heard Live Recordings

Part 1 | Cap-and-Trade 101
March 9, 2017 

Elizabeth Beale, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission
Dr. Kate Ervine, Saint Mary’s University
Dr. Brendan Haley, Dalhousie University
Jason Hollett, Nova Scotia Environment

For the cap-and-trade system to be successful, the caps and allocations should not be politically motivated. Success will be dependent on access to low-carbon alternatives. It seems unlikely that the proposed system will send a strong price signal in the short- to medium-term. 


Part 2  | Ensuring Equity
March 23, 2017

Christine Saulnier, Director Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative Nova Scotia
Steve Parsons, VP Beaubassin Mi'kmaq Wind Management Ltd.
Danny Cavanagh, President Nova Scotia Federation of Labour

There are concerns about how low-income populations, and the transition to a greener economy, will be supported without revenue in the cap-and-trade system. Complementary policies will be crucial to ensuring equity for vulnerable populations. 


Part 3  | Building Better
April 6, 2017

Julian Boyle, Director of Operations Killam Properties
Stephen MacDonald, CEO Efficiency Nova Scotia
Rochelle Owen, Executive Director Dalhousie's Office of Sustainability

The proposed cap-and-trade system likely won’t have sufficient certainty, or a high enough price signal, to incent projects in the built environment that are less emissions intensive or efficient. 


Part 4 | Driving Change
​April 20, 42017

Quin MacKenzie, Sustainable Development Consultant, Stantec
Krista Phillips, Electricity and Renewable Energy Technical Policy, Nova Scotia Department of Environment
Sanjeev Pushkarna, Manager, Nova Scotia Power
Ian Wilson, President, Wilson Fuel Co. Limited

Low-carbon transportation alternatives, and complementary policies to make these accessible, will be necessary to reduce emissions in the sector. Cap-and trade may not effectively reduce emissions in this sector.


Part 5 | Resource Economies
May 4, 2017

Gay Harley - Community Relations and Policy, SWEB Development
Maxine MacLean - Communications Research Coordinator, Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture
Gary Morton - Chair Agriculture Committee, Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce
Dale Prest - Ecosystem Services Specialist, Community Forests International

Cap-and-trade is both a risk, and a potential boon for resource and renewable energy sectors. Offsets especially may benefit both the forestry and agriculture sector. 


Part 6 | Series Finale | Design Decisions
June 29th, 2017

Dr. Meinhard Doelle, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie
Dr. Kate Ervine, International Development Studies, SMU
Ray Ritcey, CEO, the Maritimes Energy Association
Stephen Thomas, Energy Campaign Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre

Speakers pitched their vision for cap-and-trade in Nova Scotia with views ranging from setting ambitious caps, to protecting the economy, or rejecting cap-and-trade altogether.  


Connect with us

For more information, contact:
Stephen Thomas
Energy Campaign Coordinator
Gabby Mills
Cap-and-Trade Panel Series Organizer