Regulations to cut the emissions of industrial polluters are on the shelf until Washington sets a new climate change course and Canada’s economic woes subside, the federal environment minister says.

Jim Prentice said the government plans to harmonize Canada’s climate change policy with whatever regime U.S. President Barack Obama adopts.

Doing so helps Canadian industry to stay competitive with U.S. companies and presents a common North American front in international talks this year to establish post-Kyoto climate change targets, Prime Minister Stephen Harper added.

The new U.S. administration wants to cap the amount of emissions spewed into the atmosphere by American firms and auction off carbon credits that polluting companies can trade with greener firms in order to avoid penalties.

The cap and trade system already exists in Europe.

Prentice’s new southward focus means Canada’s targets, and the way to achieve emission reductions, are in line for an overhaul.

The Tory promise of regulations to cut industrial greenhouse gas emissions is intended to meet the goal of a 20 per cent cut in the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from 2006 levels by 2020.

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