Ontario, Canada has 2,900 acres of greenhouses that export over $1 billion of cucumbers, tomatoes, and green peppers to the United States. But greenhouse growers are saying they’ll suffer under the province’s new climate action plan. Their industry doesn’t only produce carbon dioxide (CO2) but consumes it as part of plants‘ photosynthesis process, but unlike in British Columbia and Alberta, Ontario growers won’t receive a rebate for the carbon consumption, which could cost them around $10 million in 2017.
In January Ontario put in place cap-and-trade rules in an effort to combat climate change. But greenhouse growers say the rules are unfair to them, since they consume CO2 instead of just emitting it. They’ll be charged $18 per metric ton of carbon.
Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers chair George Gilvesy told Financial Post, “We aren’t happy at all. We are using CO2 and the plants need CO2. Cap-and-trade is very bad policy. We are competing against the U.S. and Mexico, who do not have a carbon tax.”
What would they prefer instead? A rebate, such as that given to growers in Alberta and British Columbia. Lawmakers in those provinces recognize greenhouses consume CO2 and offer a carbon tax rebate.
BC Greenhouse Growers’ Association executive director Linda Delli Santi said British Columbia’s carbon tax used to cost her five-acre greenhouse $50,000 yearly and helped put it out of business. So growers successfully lobbied the government for a rebate. British Columbia’s then finance minister Michael de Jong said at the time, “Greenhouse growers are distinct from most others in that they need carbon dioxide and purposely produce it because it is essential for plant growth.”
Ontario environment ministry spokesperson Gary Wheeler said the province knows greenhouses will be an important source of local food as the climate changes. He told Financial Post, “Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan has committed up to $115 million to support the retrofit of agricultural facilities, including greenhouses. The investment will help the industry expand the use of innovative technologies and practices to reduce emissions.”
Via Financial Post