Principles of Kyoto and Emissions Trading Systems: A Primer for Energy Lawyers


  • Brian Evans



Energy Law, Petroleum Law


The Kyoto Protocol defines new emissions standards to be met by the international community in respect of greenhouse gases, the aim of which is to curb the present trend of adverse climate change. The specific responses of ratifying governments to bring about the desired changes will significantly impact citizenry and industry alike. This article addresses the issues surrounding emissions trading systems as market-based policy instruments that may ultimately contribute to Canada s legislative response to the Kyoto standards. Central to this question is the need to familiarize legal practitioners with the implications of climate change and the range of policy responses available to government in the context of emissions trading systems. The author examines responses open to the governments of Canada and Alberta through a review of the international reaction to climate change, the role of emissions trading in environmental regulation generally and the anticipated use of emissions trading to comply with the Kyoto Protocol in the future. The author presents an in-depth analysis of the principles underlying the design of domestic emissions trading systems, of the legislative authority surrounding their implementation and of the need for affected businesses to strategically plan for ensuing changes. The author concludes that while Canada has not yet adopted a policy on domestic emissions trading systems in respect of the Kyoto Protocol, the potential impact of emission standards on domestic sources is pronounced, meriting an inspection of the design features that may form a pan of such trading schemes.