The federal government has issued its strengthened benchmark stringency criteria in line with previously announced increases to the carbon price (rising at $15/tonne per year to $170/tonne by 2030). The government previously indicated its intent to strengthen the benchmark stringency criteria for the post-2022 period in September 2020.

The government intends to seek confirmation from provinces and territories on whether they intend to maintain or implement a carbon pricing system for the 2023-2030 period and assess provincial and territorial submissions against the updated federal benchmark criteria in 2022 for the 2023 to 2030 period. The 2016 benchmark continues to apply for assessments of carbon pollution pricing system stringency for the 2018-2022 period.

Provinces and territories must implement (a) an explicit price-based system (i.e., (i) a carbon levy on fossil fuels, or (ii) a hybrid system comprised of a carbon levy on fossil fuels and an output-based pricing system for industry) or (b) a cap-and-trade system.

Partial explicit price-based system must be designed to fully replace either the federal fuel charge or the federal OBPS. Where a province or territory implements a partial system that does not fully replace the federal fuel charge or OBPS, the corresponding federal backstop system part (i.e., fuel charge or OBPS) will apply in full in the jurisdiction.

The updated benchmark sets new requirements for both explicit price-based systems and cap-and-trade systems, in the following areas:

  • Explicit price-based systems: (i) carbon price ($65/tonne in 2023, rising $15 per year to $170/tonne in 2030); (ii) common scope; (iii) price signal (no measures to offset, reduce or negate); (iv) stringency of output-based pricing systems (OBPS) for industry; (v) restriction on OBPS and performance-based rebate approaches under a carbon levy; (vi) offset credits; and (vii) public reporting.
  • Cap-and-trade systems: (i) maximum emissions cap (corresponding at minimum to projected emissions levels that would result from the application of the minimum national carbon price); (ii) common scope; (iii) price signal (no measures to offset, reduce or negate); (iv) offset credits; and (v) public reporting.  

For further information or to discuss the contents of this bulletin, please contact Lisa DeMarco at


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