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Ontario has renewed its proposal to make landfill gas collection mandatory at medium size municipal landfills (>1.5 million m3): see EBR 010-3086. Should we cheer?

True, methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and reductions in its emissions will contribute to Ontario’s climate change goals. But what the government announcement does not say is that making landfill gas capture mandatory makes it ineligible for carbon credits. In the international system of emission trading, and in ISO 14064, “additionality” is a fundamental requirement of a carbon credit. Any greenhouse gas reduction that is required by law is not “additional” and therefore cannot create a credit.

Most landfills are operated by municipalities, which are eager to reduce their carbon footprint. However, they need sources of income often than property tax to pay for it. The sale of carbon credits is one of the most promising avenues for such revenue. And among municipal options to create such credits, landfill gas capture might have been the most profitable.

Ontario could do far more to promote greenhouse gas reductions by following British Columbia’s lead: putting a price on carbon and establishing a cap and trade system. Instead, they have simply put another financial burden on municipalities, without admitting that they are doing so. Too bad.

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