Federal government says some form of carbon pricing is coming

The federal Liberal government remains determined to set a national price on carbon emissions, despite the vocal opposition of Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government remains determined to set a national price on carbon emissions, despite the vocal opposition of Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

And a widely cited price of $15 per tonne will not be the starting point, according to federal sources who spoke to The Canadian Press.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sits down with provincial and territorial leaders next Thursday in Vancouver to discuss a national climate strategy, after which a series of working groups under a six-month deadline will begin hammering out common approaches.

Among the most contentious areas of discussion will be establishing a national floor price on greenhouse gas emissions.

Wall, who faces the Saskatchewan electorate on April 4, has already publicly denounced the plan. After the Globe and Mail published a story citing a potential $15-per-tonne minimum carbon price, Wall said it would “kneecap” the economy and would not be part of his province’s climate policy mix.

Six other provinces, meanwhile, have already adopted carbon pricing, are in the process of doing so, or have announced their intention to pursue the policy.

Catherine McKenna, the federal environment minister, said Friday in an interview that setting a carbon price is just one climate measure among many, but called it “really important.”

“It’s interesting that large businesses are calling for a price on carbon because they see that as the most efficient way to reduce emissions, to foster innovation and also to provide certainty,” said McKenna.

“Most big energy companies have an internal price on carbon (already), because they know this is going to happen.”

Working groups coming out of next week’s first ministers meeting will “tackle some pretty tough issues,” she said, including carbon pricing, climate change mitigation, specific carbon reduction measures, adaptation, and clean technology development.

Transportation is a big source of Canadian emissions that needs to be addressed, said McKenna, citing electric vehicles as a “direction we want to be going.”

Buildings can be much more energy efficient, and there’s a role for governments in major green infrastructure projects and in fostering innovation.

“There’s going to be a package of measures at the end of the six-month process that will be real actions to reduce emissions,” said McKenna. “One of those is a price on carbon.”

One scenario being sounded out within the federal government envisions setting a one-year time frame for provinces to establish a minimum price on carbon emissions through their own provincial policies. Any province or territory not on board by the following year would face a federally imposed, B.C.-style carbon tax.

But ongoing uncertainty stems from the differing carbon pricing models already in play in Canada. Quebec’s cap-and-trade market with California, which Ontario will join in 2017, has a current carbon price of about $17 a tonne. British Columbia’s carbon tax is currently $30 per tonne. Ontario and Quebec officials argue the hard emissions “caps” of their system mean they get the same carbon reductions at between $15-$18 per tonne that B.C.’s tax achieves at $30.

As McKenna put it Friday, “the devil’s in the details.”

Nonetheless, a federal source insisted the reported $15 per tonne floor price has not been discussed, and dismissed the figure as “very premature speculation.”

“There will be a national price on carbon,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the details publicly.

“Exactly what that’s going to look like is still a work in progress.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Application process for emergency benefits for workers begins this morning

OTTAWA — Applications open today for the new federal emergency aid benefit… Continue reading

Work camp operator filling need for COVID-19 field hospitals, testing centres

CALGARY — A Calgary company says it has received more than 100… Continue reading

Chaos and scrambling in the US oil patch as prices plummet

NEW YORK — In Montana, a father and son running a small… Continue reading

As COVID-19 triggers survival instinct, unwise decisions can result

MONTREAL — When a Quebec couple recently travelled to the far reaches… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer emergency call centre hours change starting next week

Hours at the City of Red Deer’s COVID-19 emergency call centre will… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

Powell hopes to compete for Canada after promising NBA season cut short

Dwight Powell was enjoying a season unlike any other. His Dallas Mavericks… Continue reading

Raptors coach Nurse ‘100 per cent’ committed to Canada’s push for Olympic spot

TORONTO — Three weeks into global basketball’s shutdown, Nick Nurse isn’t just… Continue reading

Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival postponed to fall, Jazz Festival cancelled

Montreal’s renowned Just for Laughs Festival has been pushed to the fall… Continue reading

Queen delivers message of hope to UK amid virus outbreak

Britain needed a message of hope Sunday. The queen delivered it. Queen… Continue reading

Quebec Walmart worker struck by driver allegedly angered by COVID-19 measures

SHERBROOKE, Que. — A Walmart security guard from southern Quebec was fighting… Continue reading

Boeing to continue production shutdown due to coronavirus

Company is extending its planned two-week shutdown

Most Read