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Canada lays out plan for 2018 carbon tax and cap and trade

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is taking aim at heavy polluters. — stevanovicigor/Istock.com/AFP pic
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is taking aim at heavy polluters. — stevanovicigor/Istock.com/AFP pic

OTTAWA, May 19 — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government said yesterday it will backstop regional measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions with a national carbon tax on fuels and a cap-and-trade system for heavy polluters.

Currently four provinces — Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec — representing more than 80 per cent of the population have carbon pricing or cap-and-trade schemes. And almost all of the others have carbon pricing schemes in the works, say officials.

Ottawa's climate actions would target those remaining provinces that do not have measures in place to curb climate change by next year, while topping up efforts that do not meet the federal standard.

“We're all in this together. We need a price on pollution across the country,” Environment Minister Catherine McKenna told a press conference.

“If a province doesn't have any plan by 2018, then the federal option will be implemented.”

Last year, the government announced a minimum starting carbon price would be set at C$10 (RM31.73) and rise each year to a maximum of C$50 (RM158) per tonne in 2022.

New details of the plan include a levy on fossil fuels charged to oil and gas producers and distributors starting in 2018, and a cap and trade system for heavy industrial polluters in 2019.

A Can$10 per tonne carbon price would translate into an approximately 2.3 cents charge on a litre of gasoline, 2.7 cents on diesel and 1.5 cents for propane.

'Herculean shift'

At the same time, the federal government has committed in its last budget to spend billions of dollars to help Canadians and companies transition to cleaner energy sources, and to build new energy-efficient infrastructure.

An independent parliamentary watchdog said in 2016 that the country's carbon emissions linked to global warming had stabilised at just over 700 million tonnes per year.

That is still 208 million tonnes short of Trudeau's Paris accord commitment to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent compared with 2005 levels, by 2030.

A Senate report released in March concluded that Canada required a “Herculean shift” to meet its commitment.

“To put it in context, if all the cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships were to disappear from Canada by 2030, we would still fall far short of meeting our GHG reduction commitments,” said the report.

Alternately, Canada could shut down its oil and gas sector, it said. The nation is the world's sixth largest oil producer.

Saskatchewan province, which has been developing carbon capture technology on a massive scale, is the only jurisdiction adamantly opposed to any carbon tax.

The province has vowed a court battle if pressed in order to protect its oil and gas sector, which is the second-largest in the country, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

McKenna said she was optimistic Saskatchewan would join other provinces in charging polluters but added that the feds were prepared to act unilaterally if it did not.

“We certainly hope that Saskatchewan will develop a plan that makes sense for Saskatchewan and ... we have been working hard to work with Saskatchewan in this regard,” she said.

“But let me be absolutely clear that it is well within the federal government's right to take action to protect the environment.” — AFP-Relaxnews

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