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B.C. considers greenhouse gas plan

The British Columbia government's rock-solid stand against greenhouse gases is softening as several American states pull out of a carbon-trading partnership.

Environment Minister Terry Lake said Friday the province is still committed to its climate agenda, but there's also a need to be pragmatic as British Columbians worry about economic issues.

Lake said he decided to join the Liberal team because former premier Gordon Campbell had very strong views about climate change.

"But a lot has changed since 2007 when the climate action plan came in, the economy is different. Even though B.C. is doing well, there's this fragility in the global economy that people are feeling," he said.

Lake wasn't surprised that six American states pulled out of the Western Climate Initiative, leaving just four Canadian provinces and California in the trading program.

He said politics and the economic agenda has changed in those states, forcing them to take a different direction on climate change.

Lake said there's been no decision yet if B.C. will take part in the initiative's cap-and-trade system because that could mean losing the large greenhouse gas emitters who pay into the province's carbon tax.

"What we don't want to do is jeopardize the very good system we have in place around a comprehensive carbon tax that we have now."

Lake said removing some of the biggest emitters would throw out the revenue projections on a tax that is revenue neutral.

It would be a big decision to change to the cap-and-trade system, and the government is consulting with industry, environmental organizations and the government ministries involved, Lake said.

He expects a decision on the cap-and-trade plan by the beginning of 2012.

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