The Shell Saturn Groundbirch natural gas plant outside of Fort St. John, B.C., is pictured on October 11, 2018. Climate-change advocates and renewable-fuel producers want Ottawa to make sure new natural-gas power plants have to pay a price for every ounce of their greenhouse-gas emissions within 12 years. Canada is in the midst now of finalizing the regulations for its carbon pricing system for big industrial emitters. It will apply to any facility that produces at least 50,000 tonnes of emissions a year, including electricity generated by emitting sources such as coal, natural gas and diesel. Ottawa is weighing the need to reduce Canada’s emissions with a desire not to force electrical companies to raise rates too quickly. The Canadian Association of Renewable Electricity and its members, representing producers of wind, solar, hydro and tidal power, along with some environment groups, want Ottawa to ensure that it makes that system strong enough to discourage new builds of fossil fuel-based electricity. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

New gas plants should pay carbon levy on all emissions by 2030, advocates say

OTTAWA — Climate-change advocates and renewable-fuel producers want Ottawa to make sure new natural-gas power plants have to pay a price for every ounce of their greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030.

Canada is finalizing the regulations for its carbon-pricing system for big industrial emitters. The rules will apply to any facility that produces at least 50,000 tonnes of emissions a year, including electricity generated by fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and diesel. Ottawa is weighing the need to reduce Canada’s emissions against a desire not to hurt consumers by forcing electricity companies to raise rates too quickly.

The Canadian Council on Renewable Electricity — whose members include producers of wind, solar, hydro and tidal power — and some environment groups want Ottawa to make the system strong enough to discourage new fossil-fuel electricity plants.

“The idea is to send a signal that even for existing generation, the closer you get to 2030 the more emissions should be exposed to the carbon price,” said Jean-Francois Nolet, vice-president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

As the rules stand now, electricity producers will only pay the federal carbon levy on a small portion of their emissions.

Canada’s carbon pricing system has two components: the direct carbon levy that individuals and smaller organizations will pay on fuel they use to drive, heat their homes and power their electronics and a separate levy for big industrial emitters.

Only provinces that don’t have their own carbon levies will be subjected to the federal systems. Right now those are Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. The big-emitters system for industry will also be applied in Prince Edward Island, Yukon and Nunavut, which asked to use it.

The industrial system will see Ottawa determine the average emissions produced by each type of fuel, and the cap is set at 80 per cent of that average. Power companies will pay the carbon levy — $20 per tonne of greenhouse gas produced in 2019, and increasing regularly — only on the emissions over that cap.

Ottawa’s current proposal is that the cap be set at 800 tonnes per gigawatt-hour of electricity produced by coal, 550 tonnes for diesel and 370 tonnes for natural gas.

Nolet says the renewables industry is lobbying for Ottawa to ratchet down those caps by at least five per cent a year for existing facilities. For new facilities, he said the hope is the levy will be charged on 100 per cent of emissions by 2030.

Canada has 16 coal power plants left and intends to phase most of them out by 2030. There are more than 90 natural-gas plants, with 44 of them in the provinces affected by Ottawa’s carbon price.

Catherine Abreu, executive director of the Climate Action Network Canada, said there is a fear that natural gas will be the most common choice to replace coal, and while gas is less dirty than coal it still has significant emissions. A big Canadian natural-gas plant emits more than 1.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year.

Abreu would like new natural-gas plants to be approved only after assessments that show renewables are not an option for that region, and only with the highest emissions standards possible.

“We need a combination of regulations that enforce really strict performance standards and fiscal signals that disincent the dash to gas,” said Abreu.

A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the carbon price is just one of the mechanisms Canada is using to reduce emissions, and that it is still working with interested parties as it works toward its final decisions on the electricity sector.

Canada needs to cut almost 200 million tonnes of annual emissions to meet its promise under the Paris climate change agreement. That’s the equivalent of taking more than 42 million cars off the road.

Just Posted

Central Alberta Archers Association: Proposed safe drug consumption service location puts youth at risk

Turning Point proposes second location for a permanent safe consumption service in Red Deer

Man dead following altercation at gas station on Sunchild First Nation

Rocky Mountain RCMP say victim succumbed to injuries in hospital

UCP member apologizes for ‘unintentionally’ comparing pride flag to swastikas

A member of Alberta’s United Conservative Party is apologizing for making what… Continue reading

Crowd watches as backhoe rips into mangled plane after Halifax runway overrun

HALIFAX — Crews have begun tearing into the mangled Boeing 747 cargo… Continue reading

Grim search for more fire victims, 31 dead across California

PARADISE, Calif. — The death toll from the wildfire that incinerated Paradise… Continue reading

Updated: Red Deer RCMP introduce downtown policing unit

A four-member downtown Red Deer RCMP unit hit the beat on Thursday… Continue reading

Comic book genius Stan Lee, Spider-Man creator, dies at 95

LOS ANGELES — Stan Lee, the creative dynamo who revolutionized the comic… Continue reading

Canada intelligence officials have heard audio of Khashoggi murder, Trudeau says

PARIS — Justin Trudeau says Canadian intelligence officials have listened to a… Continue reading

Canada hoping to solve U.S. tariff dispute by G20 meetings at month’s end: PM

WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s hopeful that Canada can… Continue reading

Bishops will delay votes on steps to combat sex abuse crisis

BALTIMORE — In an abrupt change of plans, the president of the… Continue reading

Man at centre of Nobel body scandal tests rape conviction

STOCKHOLM — The man at the centre of the scandal at the… Continue reading

Chinese premier urges guard of free trade on Singapore visit

SINGAPORE — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stressed the need for free trade… Continue reading

50 countries vow to fight cybercrime – US and Russia don’t

PARIS — Fifty nations and over 150 tech companies pledged Monday to… Continue reading

More women in poor countries use contraception, says report

KIGALI, Rwanda — More women and girls in poor countries are using… Continue reading

Most Read