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Media Release: How to Succeed with Cap and Trade

New Report Serves as Insider Handbook for Would-Be Climate Leaders

As premiers from across Canada converge on Quebec City for a major climate summit, a new report lifts the lid on the policies, players, and politics of the province’s cap and trade carbon pricing system.

Inside North America’s Largest Carbon Market: Top Lessons from the Front Lines of Quebec’s Fight Against Carbon Pollution—released today by Clean Energy Canada—offers leaders who may be considering a cap and trade system key insights from those who have already done so.

Introduced just three years ago, the Quebec-California cap and trade alliance, under the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), is North America’s largest carbon market. All eyes are on the system this week as Quebec hosts a climate summit in Quebec City, and as reports suggest Ontario may soon be joining the system.

The report is based on confidential and candid interviews with 10 architects of Quebec’s Cap and Trade system, including former premier Jean Charest, as well as government, academic, and industry insiders.

Together with our preceding report, How To Adopt a Winning Carbon Price, which focused on British Columbia’s carbon tax, Clean Energy Canada has now provided a look “under the hood” of the two major approaches to carbon pricing, and the important lessons offered by each.


Carbon pricing is rapidly becoming the new normal. It’s something that jurisdictions around the world are looking to do, and the ones who have done it are looking to improve on it.  Our research in both B.C. and Quebec shows us that governments survive—and policies can thrive—when you’re bold enough to lead on climate. — Merran Smith, Executive Director, Clean Energy Canada

If you’re a policy maker thinking about joining the growing number of states and provinces that price carbon, then you need to read this report. It outlines what Quebec has gained, the lessons it has learned, and where the third rails are. — Sarah Petrevan, Senior Policy Advisor, Clean Energy Canada

Key Facts

  • When considered together with that of California, Quebec’s cap and trade system is North America’s largest carbon market.
  • Quebec’s cap and trade system covers 85 percent of the province’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The system has persisted through two changes in the province’s government.
  • Based on the results of the most recent auction, Quebec’s system prices carbon at $12.21 per tonne.
  • To date, Quebec and California have held three joint auctions for emissions units.
  • Approximately 48 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is covered by some form of a carbon price.
  • China will be the world’s largest carbon market when its national system launches next year.
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