Top Tory contenders will fight carbon tax if they win leadership race

Peter MacKay, who is running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, said he would ‘roll back the Trudeau carbon tax.’

The key contenders in the Conservative leadership race say they plan to keep fighting the federal carbon tax, if they win the party’s top job.

While Peter MacKay, Erin O’Toole and Marilyn Gladu have tried to distance themselves from other elements of outgoing leader Andrew Scheer’s election campaign, all confirmed to The Globe and Mail that on the carbon tax they agree with Mr. Scheer. The positions reflect the stark divide between the Conservative base’s opposition to the carbon tax compared with the strong backing it gets from Liberal and NDP supporters.

In a statement, Mr. MacKay said he would “roll back the Trudeau carbon tax.” In a separate statement, Mr. O’Toole said he would “scrap the federal carbon tax and focus on how Canada can become a global leader in zero-carbon technology like nuclear.”

Neither candidate was available for an interview.

Who’s running for the Conservative Party leadership? The list so far

Carbon pricing in Canada: A guide to who’s affected, who pays what and who opposes it

When Ms. Gladu first floated a leadership bid in December, she said she didn’t think it would be “profitable to try to take away” the carbon tax, noting “Canadians have said that they will accept it.”

Now that she is an official candidate, Ms. Gladu has changed her mind. She told The Globe she believes a carbon tax is “really not an effective way to get a reduction” in emissions.

“I will revoke the federal carbon tax,” she said.

According to the Ecofiscal Commission, an independent group that championed carbon taxes before it closed in 2019, the measure has limited or reduced emissions in jurisdictions such as British Columbia and Sweden.

Ruling out a carbon tax removes a key tool for tackling climate change and comes as Canadians put an increased focus on it. According to a December poll from Nanos Research, more than one-third of Canadians believe the environment should be the top priority in 2020.

After Doug Ford rode to power in Ontario slamming the carbon price, the Conservatives were hoping the same position would help them federally. Instead, more Canadians voted for parties that championed a carbon tax.

But as Ontario MP Michael Chong learned in his failed 2017 Conservative leadership bid, strong support for carbon pricing stops at the party’s doors. At the time, Mr. Chong was the only candidate to advocate for a carbon tax; in December, Mr. Chong said he didn’t know if he would still back it because the party should respect its members views.

On Wednesday, he ruled out a leadership bid, telling The Globe he concluded, “There’s no path to victory.” He said the next leader needs an “ambitious agenda to deal with our subpar environmental and economic performance.”

But he said that doesn’t have to include a carbon tax, which he called “the most economically efficient way to reduce emissions” but not the only way.

On Wednesday, Manitoba MP Candice Bergen also confirmed she would not make a leadership bid.

Conservative MPs John Williamson and Michelle Rempel Garner are still considering leadership bids.

The carbon tax is the most prominent and contentious part of the Liberal government’s climate plan, but it is just one part of more than 50 measures Ottawa has introduced to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Other policies include regulating methane emissions, incentives for zero-emissions vehicles and investments in green infrastructure and clean technology.

The policies still leave Canada well short of meeting its 2030 emissions targets; the Liberals have said they will introduce more measures to reach the goal.

The Conservatives will elect their next leader in Toronto on June 27.

In 2018, the federal government announced that all provinces would need to implement a carbon-pricing system by April 1, 2019 and those that didn’t would fall under a federal carbon tax. But what is carbon pricing anyway?   SOURCE
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Farm income to fall by up to 12% due to the carbon tax: APAS

 WATCH: What APAS’s general manager hopes will come of a review on the carbon tax impact. 

An organization representing agricultural producers in Saskatchewan says the federal carbon tax could eat up to 12 per cent of a farmer’s net income by 2022.The Agriculture Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) said Monday a review of the carbon tax shows the financial impact it will have on producers in the province.

“It’s comparable to having 12 per cent of your paycheque disappear in a year,” APAS president Todd Lewis said in a statement.

“Farmers don’t set our prices, so those increased costs are coming right off our bottom line.”

APAS pointed to rail transportation, heating and electricity, and truck hauling as major farm expenses currently not exempted from the carbon tax.

Another concern for APAS is the cost of grain drying — which is also not exempt.

“This past year was unprecedented in terms of the role grain drying played for farmers in our province,” said APAS vice-president Bill Prybylski, who farms near Willowbrook.

“Without using propane to dry our grain, the wet fall would have meant losing a huge portion of our crop.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan farmers feeling effect of the carbon tax during wet harvest

Lewis is calling on the federal government to exempt the carbon tax on all farm expenses.

 Western Canadian farmers push back against federal carbon tax

“Federal Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau has asked the agriculture industry for evidence of what the carbon tax is costing Canadian farmers,” Lewis said.

“We’ve responded with estimates that are backed up by producer bills in 2019.”

Farm income to fall by up to 12% due to the carbon tax: APAS
 APAS says the federal carbon tax could eat up to 12 per cent of a farmer’s net income by 2022. Graphic / Global News

APAS estimates a 5,000-acre grain operation will lose $8,000 to $10,000 in 2020 with a carbon tax of $30/tonne, rising to between $13,000 and $17,000 when the carbon tax hits $50/tonne in 2022.

Both Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili have called on the federal government to remove the carbon tax from farmer’s energy bills.

READ MORE: Meili writes to Trudeau, requesting carbon tax exemption for farmers

The Saskatchewan government is also challenging the legality of the carbon tax.

In a 3-2 decision, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled that Ottawa has the constitutional power to apply a minimum national carbon pricing.

The province is appealing the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. It is expected to be heard on March 17 and 18.

“In the absence of an alternative, I think the (Canadian) government has to be looking at the impacts on the industry and saying, ‘OK, we’ll exempt this or we’ll exempt that’ to avoid that burden (on farmers),” said APAS general manager Duane Haave.

“Farmers sequester a lot of carbon, somewhere between nine and 11 million tons a year, which at $50 a ton is worth $550 million, so they don’t get recognition from that side. That would be probably good for the government to do as well is to take into account the management of carbon that happens on the farm.”

 2019 carbon tax rebate decreases in Saskatchewan

SOURCE

Defusing BC’s big, bad carbon bomb

Over the past 20 years, BC forests were so heavily logged that net carbon emissions are now twice as large as Alberta’s oil sands.

735022386_ForestlossonVancouverIsland2000-2018(yellow).thumb.jpg.517ca882779884e0edbb652a6ee631cf.jpg

Forest loss (yellow) on Vancouver Island and the south coast mainland between 2000 and 2018 Source: Hansen/UMD/Google/USGS/NASA

AT THE HEIGHT OF LAST SUMMER’S ECONOMIC MELTDOWN in the BC interior’s forest industry, Marty Gibbons, president of United Steelworkers Local 1-417, based in Kamloops, told the Canadian Press: “Something needs to change immediately or these small communities that don’t have other employers are going to wither and die.” Gibbons concluded that “the largest driving factor is the Province’s complex stumpage system that results in high fees.”

The average stumpage rate in BC—the price the Province charges forestry companies for harvesting a cubic metre of tree on Crown land—was around $23 for both the interior and the coast in 2019 (1). But the average stumpage paid for timber harvested from Crown land by major raw log exporters like TimberWest and Western Forest Products in the Campbell River Natural Resource District was much lower, ranging between $8 and $11 per cubic metre. Smaller companies paid even less—as little as $5 per cubic metre. Yet raw logs for export were selling at an average price of $128 per cubic metre through 2019 (2).

Raw logs worth $4.146 billion were exported from BC to other countries for processing over the past five years (3). This huge overcut—unnecessary to meet domestic and international demand for BC’s finished wood products—has averaged 6.5 million cubic metres per year over those five years, equal to 41 percent of the total cut on Crown and private land on the coast (4). So claims that high stumpage rates in BC are the problem that needs to be solved seem out of touch with reality.

But Gibbons is still right: something “needs to change immediately.” The required change, however, might be more than what he’s thinking. The interior’s forest industry has been destabilized by two climate-change-related phenomena—devastating wildfire and explosive mountain pine beetle infestation—that have been amplified by the immense extent of BC’s clearcut logging. Gibbons wants to knock a few bucks off the forest companies’ costs so they can run more shifts at the mills. What’s really needed, though, is a much deeper kind of change, one that would quickly transform BC’s forest industry. To start, we need to end the export of raw logs and shift that same volume to a new class of forest: protected forest-carbon reserves.

There’s an urgent need to remove carbon from the atmosphere and reduce emissions at the same time. The only way to remove carbon on a large scale and then store it safely for a long time is to not harvest healthy, mature forests of long-lived species.

The next 10 years need to be full of bold ideas as we look for and find solutions to the climate crisis. Initiatives like the Carbon Tax in Canada are necessary to disincentivize the use of fossil fuels, but planet Earth isn’t going to give us time to tax our emissions into submission. We need some quick shifts that will cut 10 megatonnes with a few strokes of the Premier’s pen. In BC, protecting the forest instead of destroying it is our only realistic option. If we don’t do this, we’ll run the risk that the rest of the world will start counting the emissions we are releasing from our forests and begin to think of us—and our manufactured wood products industry—as the Brazil of the North.

Perhaps what’s required most at this critical moment is recognition by the BC government that an international market for sequestered forest-carbon is coming soon, and that forest companies need to start switching from destroying publicly-owned forests to protecting them. Not just old-growth forests, but mature second-growth stands of long-lived species, too.

 

735022386_ForestlossonVancouverIsland2000-2018(yellow).thumb.jpg.517ca882779884e0edbb652a6ee631cf.jpg

Forest loss (yellow) on Vancouver Island and the south coast mainland between 2000 and 2018 Source: Hansen/UMD/Google/USGS/NASA

Our government leaders don’t seem to be thinking straight yet. Instead, deforestation on the BC coast is accelerating. Over the past six years, the area of coastal Crown land that was clearcut increased 16 percent over the previous six-year period. Our provincial forest’s capacity to serve as a carbon sink has vanished. Its catastrophic collapse is recorded in a 20-year segment of the Province’s annual inventory of provincial greenhouse gas emissions. In 1997, BC forests could sequester the equivalent of 103 megatonnes of CO2 annually. By 2017 that had fallen to 19.6 megatonnes (5). From 2020 on, our forests will be a net source of emissions—even without including those from wildfires. The image above shows—in yellow—the physical area of Vancouver Island, and the adjacent mainland coast, that was clearcut between 2000 and 2018. Vancouver Island has become an ecological war zone. But a different economic role for the forest is emerging, one that doesn’t destroy it.

That new purpose is highlighted by a gaping hole in Canada’s plan to meet its emissions reduction commitment under the 2015 Paris Agreement. Canada’s 2018 progress report to the UN admits there’s a nearly 100-megatonne gap in the plan to 2030 (and this assumes the rest of the plan will actually work). How will Canada live up to its promise over the next 10 years? The progress report puts it this way: “Potential increases in stored carbon (carbon sequestration) in forests, soils and wetlands will also contribute to reductions which, for a country such as Canada, could also play an important role in achieving the 2030 target.”

The report offers no other possibility for filling that gap.

Canada, then, will likely depend on using the carbon sequestration capacity of its forests to meet its Paris Agreement commitments.

Article 5 of the Paris Agreement encourages all countries to “…promote and cooperate in the conservation and enhancement, as appropriate, of sinks and reservoirs of all greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol, including biomass, forests and oceans as well as other terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems.”

Depending on how Article 6 of the Paris Agreement is eventually detailed (its development was stymied at the Madrid COP), it’s possible that an international market mechanism for forest carbon is coming, and it can’t come soon enough.

The over-exploitation of BC’s forests has added to an explosion in net carbon emissions, delivered to the atmosphere each year by the forest industry’s endless road building and progressive clearcuts. Below, I’ll show why this now amounts to over 190 megatonnes every year (and possibly much more), a far more powerful carbon bomb than is being dropped by Canada’s oil sands industry (6). It’s long past time for us to understand the inner workings of the bomb and to defuse it.

There are two separate parts to BC’s bomb, and I will take you through each of these in some detail below.

First, when a mature or old forest stand is logged, assuming it’s healthy, the living biomass that’s killed and cut up into small pieces begins a premature process of decay, often hundreds of years before that decay would occur naturally.

Secondly, when that mature or old, healthy stand is clearcut, its potential to sequester carbon in the future is lost and it could then take anywhere from 60 years to several hundred years before a new replacement forest could sequester as much carbon as was being stored in the previous stand.

Let me take you through the inner workings of each of these parts of BC’s carbon bomb. First, let’s consider the magnitude of the carbon emissions released when wood prematurely decays.

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Biomass left behind after clearcut logging on Crown land on Quadra Island (Photo by David Broadland)

WHEN AN AREA OF FOREST IS CLEARCUT, three decay processes are initiated that result in emissions of carbon to the atmosphere.

First, the removal of the trees allows the sun to warm the forest soil to a higher temperature than was possible when it was shaded by trees. That additional warmth speeds up decay processes and the release of greenhouse gases, a process somewhat akin to the melting of permafrost in the Arctic. Soil scientists tell us that forest soil contains even more carbon than all the trees and other biomass that grow in it. Recent studies have reported that as much as 20 percent of the carbon in the layer of soil at the forest floor is released to the atmosphere after an area of forest has been clearcut. This release is a wild card in our emerging understanding of the impact of clearcut logging on carbon emissions. For now it remains unquantified, but it’s definitely not zero.

The second decay process begins after an area of forest is clearcut and the unused parts of trees left on the forest floor begin to decay. In his 2019 report Forestry and Carbon in BC (document at end of story), BC forest ecologist Jim Pojar estimated that 40 to 60 percent of the biomass of a forest is left in a clearcut. That includes the branches, stumps, roots, pieces of the stems that shattered when felled, the unutilizable tops of the trees, and unmerchantable trees that are killed in the mayhem of clearcut logging.

For our purpose, we will use the mid-point of Pojar’s 40 to 60 percent estimate: half of the biomass is removed, and half remains on the forest floor. The Ministry of Forests’ log scaling system tells us what volume of wood is removed from the forest as merchantable logs. We then assume that an equal volume of wood is left in the clearcut.

In 2018, the total volume of wood removed from BC’s forests, as reported in the ministry’s Harvest Billing System, was 54.1 million cubic metres. As per above, we are using the same number for the volume of wood that was left in clearcuts all over the province. So the total volume of wood in play is 108.2 million cubic metres. Both pools of wood—the wood left behind and the wood trucked away—begin to decay after a relatively short period of time following harvest. Each cubic metre of wood will eventually produce about 0.82 tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions (7). So the wood left behind will produce 44 megatonnes and the wood trucked away will also produce 44 megatonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions—eventually.

The average 6.5-million-cubic-metre cut for raw log exports accounts for 11 megatonnes of that 88-megatonne carbon bomb.

You might have heard that the carbon in the logs that are harvested and turned into finished wood products will be safely stored in those products indefinitely. But the Ministry of Forests’ own research shows that after 28 years, half of the carbon in the wood products is no longer being safely stored; at 100 years, only 33 percent of the wood is still in safe storage (graph below). The rest will have returned to the atmosphere or is headed in that direction.

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This BC Ministry of Forests graph shows how the carbon stored in wood products declines over time. After 28 years, half of the carbon stored has been lost to the atmosphere. At 100 years, 33 percent remains.

MORE

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Forest loss moves swiftly once 50% deforestation ‘tipping point’ reached

Carbon tax and TMX pipeline dominate top court’s winter session

The Supreme Court of Canada building, located in downtown Ottawa. Jan. 3, 2020. Jolson Lim/iPolitics

Just as it did when it ruled on Senate reform, prostitution and medically assisted death, the Supreme Court of Canada, as it begins its winter session, will take a leadership role on nation-building issues that could profoundly change Canada.

If dealing with climate change is the imminent crisis of the next decade, then three major cases are pivotal in determining how Canada manages emissions reduction and deals with the threat of a warming globe in the years to come.

Two of the cases, to be heard in March, are about the federal government’s carbon pricing scheme, a law that some say has already deeply divided the country.

Saskatchewan and Ontario are arguing that the federal government’s 2018 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act is unconstitutional.

The top court will have to determine if the so-called carbon tax is such an issue of national concern that it falls under Parliament’s constitutional authority to ensure peace, order and good government.

Saskatchewan, in its brief to the top court, states its own plan — a provincial responsibility, it says — is based on reducing emissions from its largest industrial emitters. The federal law imposes a fuel surcharge on consumers and producers

Saskatchewan lost at court of appeal in a 3-2 decision that found the federal law didn’t impose taxes, but regulatory charges meant to regulate behaviour, not raise revenues.

Ontario also lost at the Ontario Court of Appeal. Alberta is waiting for its own appeal court’s decision.

“The provinces are fully capable of regulating greenhouse gas emissions themselves, have already done so, and continue to do so,” Ontario’s brief says.

The third case about the conflict between environmental regulation and federal-provincial jurisdiction is to be heard next week at the top court.

British Columbia is asking whether it can regulate aspects of the environmental impact of the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline extension, designed to transport oil from Alberta through B.C. to the coast for export to other countries.

A pipeline has existed for almost 40 years and has been pumping about 300,000 barrels of oil a day, an amount that will nearly triple with the expansion.

At the B.C. court of appeal, B.C. lost as that court unanimously ruled the proposed amendments by the B.C. government were aimed more at stopping the pipeline than regulating the environment. MORE

 

Poll shows Canadians favour national response to climate change despite Alberta’s carbon tax objections

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in front of the Trans Mountain Edmonton Terminal in Edmonton, Alberta on March 22, 2019. Albertans will pay the tax on gasoline and home heating fuels starting New Year’s Day. CANDACE ELLIOTT/REUTERS

The Alberta government is ramping up its opposition to the federal carbon tax, which kicks in on Wednesday, as a new poll suggests a greater number of Canadians want Ottawa to make the environment, rather than the economy, its top priority.

Albertans will pay the tax on gasoline and home heating fuels starting New Year’s Day, as the federal government imposes its own tax to replace the one repealed by Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party government last spring.

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer held a photo-op at a truck-stop gas station in Calgary on Tuesday as he vowed to continue doing everything in the province’s power to oppose the tax. That fight has largely focused on a series of continuing court challenges.

“We have the ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions; it’s within our provincial scope,” he said in an interview. “The federal government right now is effectively trying to expand their mandate within our Constitution.”

Appeal courts in Ontario and Saskatchewan have already upheld the federal carbon pricing system with split rulings. Alberta argued its case at the province’s Court of Appeal in mid-December and is awaiting the decision, and all three are expected to end up at the Supreme Court of Canada in March.

The federal government has argued that establishing national minimum standards for carbon pricing is essential to tackling the existential threat of climate change. It has also said carbon tax rebates will leave most Canadians with more money than they pay through the levy.

A report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer and research from several economists have backed up the federal government’s position on the rebates, although Mr. Schweitzer rejected the claim that most Albertans will be better off under the federal carbon tax.

“It is the broader economic impact,” he said. “I don’t think a carbon tax is going to be the way for us to get job creation going in Alberta.”

The Justice Minister cited a report released by his government in the fall that found the previous provincial government’s carbon tax would result in roughly 10,000 fewer jobs by 2030.

The same report concluded that both the previous provincial tax and the federal tax would have a substantial impact on emissions with only a slight drag to the province’s economy. For example, the report concluded the federal carbon plan would cut GPD growth by 0.055 per cent a year, while also heading off $2.2-billion in economic damage related to climate change.

A Nanos Research poll conducted for The Globe and Mail suggests growing support for a national response to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

The poll found 35 per cent of respondents identified the environment as their top issue for the federal government, compared with 25 per cent who said it is the economy. The environment was a higher priority in every region except for the Prairies, where 31 per cent of respondents said the economy should be the No. 1 issue for Ottawa compared with 18 per cent who said the environment.

Fifty-eight per cent of respondents said it would be unacceptable for a province to opt out of the national climate change plan. In the Prairies, that number was 50 per cent.

“It’s pretty clear that the environment is not just a top-of-mind issue, but people want action on this,” pollster Nik Nanos said.

“Setting aside some of the naysayers, specifically in Alberta and Saskatchewan, who are looking to diminish that particular issue, the fact of the matter is there’s no fatigue right now in engaging on the environment. Canadians want to see action on that.”

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said the Alberta government’s claims around rebates are simply not true. He said the province should tone down the rhetoric and instead work with the federal government to put a price on emissions.

“We need to have a comprehensive and thoughtful approach to addressing climate change,” Mr. Wilkinson said in an interview.

“If the government of Alberta is saying that somehow this is an affordability issue, then they need to go back and look at the way in which the price on pollution works.”

The federal government recently announced it would accept Alberta’s industrial carbon tax and not impose the federal system on industrial emitters. The Alberta government is using some of the revenue from the tax to fund research into emissions-reducing technology.

The Nanos survey was conducted from Dec. 22 to Dec. 29 and questioned 1,010 respondents, giving the poll a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20. SOURCE

 

Ottawa accepts Alberta’s new $30-per-tonne carbon plan for large emitters in 2020

Made-in-Alberta’ plan will apply to industry; federal carbon tax — and rebates — will apply to consumers


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government has accepted a carbon-pricing plan for large-emitting industries developed by the government of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press, Kyle Bakx/CBC, Amber Bracken/The Canadian Press)

The federal government will accept the Alberta government’s latest plan to tax the greenhouse gas emissions of large industrial facilities at a rate of $30 per tonne in 2020.

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Friday his department agrees that Alberta’s system will meet federal requirements for large emitters like oilsands operations, natural gas producers, chemical manufacturers and fertilizer plants.

All told, the province estimates these types of heavy-emitting facilities account for 55 to 60 per cent of Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions.

This system runs in parallel to the federal fuel charge — commonly known as the carbon tax — that applies to individual consumers and smaller-emitting companies.

Alberta already has a carbon-pricing system that charges large emitters at a rate of $30 per tonne. It was brought in by the previous NDP government. The new United Conservative Party government plans to modify that system, however, starting on Jan. 1.

While the carbon price will remain at $30 per tonne, that price only effectively applies to emissions above a target level.

Change in emissions targets

The new plan, known as the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) regulation, will make it easier for some of the most carbon-intensive facilities to hit their emissions targets, thereby avoiding the tax and potentially earning credits for coming in below target.

That’s because the current targets are set at an industry-wide level — meaning all oilsands facilities, for example, are held to the same emissions standard — while TIER will create individual targets for each facility based on its emissions levels from the recent past.

The province estimates that switching to the new system will save industry more than $330 million in avoided compliance costs in 2020.

The change in targets will apply to all industrial categories except electricity generation.

Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon said Friday he was pleased by Ottawa’s decision to accept the “made-in-Alberta” carbon-pricing system.

“When we engaged with industry on TIER in summer 2019, we heard loud and clear that they want to be regulated by the province, not by Ottawa,” Nixon said in a release.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) issued a statement that also praised the “made-in-Alberta” plan.

“This program has the components to ensure both Alberta’s large and small oil and natural gas operations remain competitive, while clearly satisfying the requirements set by the federal government,” said Terry Abel, CAPP’s executive vice-president of operations and climate.

Alberta will ‘oppose’ $40 price in 2021

Current federal rules will require the price on carbon to rise to $40 per tonne in 2021 and $50 per tonne in 2022.

Premier Jason Kenney said Friday his government would “oppose that measure” but won’t necessarily flout it.

“We’ll have to make a prudent judgment when we get closer to that date,” Kenney told reporters. “Because one thing we don’t want is the federal government bigfooting into Alberta and enforcing their own, separate regulatory regime.”

The federal government plans to impose its carbon tax on the consumer-level sale of fossil fuels starting in 2020.

Carbon tax — and rebates — coming Jan. 1

Under its previous NDP goverment, Alberta had a consumer-level carbon tax that met federal requirements, but Kenney’s UCP government killed that carbon tax as one of its first acts after being elected in April.

The federal “backstop” on carbon pricing, however, means Ottawa’s carbon tax will apply to the purchase of fuels like gasoline, natural gas and propane in Alberta as of Jan 1.

Albertans will also start receiving carbon-tax rebates in the new year, which the federal government says will offset the increased cost for most households in the province.

Those rebates will be calculated as follows:

  • $444 for a single adult or the first adult in a couple.
  • $222 for the second adult in a couple. Single parents will receive this amount for their first child.
  • $111 for each child in the family (starting with the second child for single parents).

The rebate amounts are fixed. You get the same amount regardless of how much carbon tax you pay.

Economists say this helps alleviate the burden of the tax while also maintaining the incentive to consume less fossil fuel, since the less you burn, the less you pay.

That will also be applied at a rate of $30 per tonne in 2020, which works out to 6.63 cents per litre of gasoline.

 

What a Liberal minority government means for Canada’s environment

From the carbon tax to fossil fuel subsidies, here are eight things we can expect from a minority government

PM Trudeau arrives in Biarritz. August 22, 2019.

…The Liberals could work with either the NDP or the Bloc Quebecois (or some combination thereof) and remain in power.

Both the NDP and the Bloc have strong environmental platforms — arguably stronger than the Liberals — so if anything the Liberals can be expected to take a stronger stance on environmental issues.

There’s much we don’t know, but here are a few things we can reasonably expect to happen on the environment file.

1) The carbon tax will stay in place

An escalating price on carbon has been the cornerstone of the Liberals climate plan and they’ll have plenty of support to keep the carbon tax in place. The NDP also promised a carbon tax, but vowed to take it a step further by removing exemptions for heavy polluters.

Meanwhile, the Bloc Quebecois proposed that Ottawa impose a carbon tax in provinces where greenhouse gas emissions per capita are higher than average and that the proceeds be paid to provinces where emissions are lower, creating a form of green equalization. Trudeau will almost certainly be concerned about Albertan alienation, so he’ll avoid getting involved in that plan.

2) About those fossil fuel subsidies …

Back in 2015, the Liberals promised to phase out fossil fuel subsidies over the “medium term,” but Environmental Defence estimates the federal government is still handing out $3.3 billion a year to the fossil fuel industry. The NDP and the Bloc Quebecois campaigned on a promise to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, a policy that enjoys tremendous public support. Could they use their newfound power to push for this phase out to start sooner rather than later?

3) The Trans Mountain pipeline debate is unlikely to be re-opened in Parliament, unless …

While many of the opposition parties might want to re-open this debate, it’s hard to see an opening for them to do so given the pipeline is already approved. Even if the NDP, Greens and Bloc Quebecois wanted to force a confidence vote on it, the Conservatives would side with the Liberals on this one.

However, the Liberals still need to find $10 to $15 billion to build the pipeline.

“The public financing of the project does seem to present a bit of a pickle,” said Kai Nagata of Dogwood, a B.C. democracy group. “It doesn’t seem likely the NDP/Bloc/Greens could vote for a budget with pipeline construction funds, but the Conservative party probably couldn’t stomach voting for everything else.”

Nagata added: “Even the Conservatives should be philosophically uncomfortable with borrowing money, in a deficit, to spend on corporate welfare.”

4) Buh-buy single-use plastics

The Liberals promised to start phasing out single-use plastics starting around 2021. The NDP, meanwhile, wants to intensify that approach by straight-up banning single-use plastics by 2022. Any which way, single-use plastics such as bags and straws are likely going the way of the dodo.

5) Full steam ahead on conservation

The Trudeau government has made significant progress toward meeting its Aichi Biodiversity targets: it pledged to protect at least 17 per cent of terrestrial area and inland waters, and 10 per cent of its oceans, by 2020. A flurry of big new protected areas has moved that along.

The Liberals have also committed to conserving 25 per cent of Canada’s land, freshwater and ocean by 2025 and to working toward conserving 30 per cent by 2030. They also plan to advocate for countries around the world to set a 30 per cent conservation goal.

Additionally, the Liberals have identified the opportunity to reduce emissions by 30 megatonnes by 2030 using natural climate solutions that support efforts to better manage, conserve and restore forests, grasslands, agricultural lands, wetlands and coastal areas — as well ad by planting two billion trees.

The NDP and Greens have also committed to the goal of conserving 30 per cent of land, freshwater and oceans by 2030.

So, watch for more Indigenous protected areasnational parks and marine protected areas.

6) Expect more electric vehicles

The Liberals have set a target of 30 per cent of all light-duty vehicles on the road being electric by 2030. The Bloc Quebecois also support measures to require manufacturers to sell more electric vehicles. And the NDP support maintaining the $5,000 federal incentive for electric vehicle purchases while eliminating federal sales tax on them. One way or another, electric vehicle incentives are here to stay.

7) A lot of Albertans are going to be outraged

With Conservatives winning a higher percentage of the popular vote than the Liberals nationwide, and winning every seat in Alberta and Saskatchewan except for one, Westerners are rightly going to be upset about ending up with so little say in Ottawa. How that will manifest is yet to be seen, but I’d wager a bet it ain’t gonna be pretty.

8) Will electoral reform have its moment in the sun?

The NDP and Greens have long supported a move to proportional representation — an electoral system that would ensure the allocation of seats is more in line with the popular vote than our current first-past-the-post system. With the Conservatives being the latest losers under the first-past-the-post system, one has to wonder if there might be a cross-party push for a referendum on modernizing our electoral system.

Much more will become clear over the coming weeks and months, but for now what we know is that the Liberals will have to work with some combination of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois — and that means that if anything, they’ll have a stronger mandate to take bold action on the climate crisis.

Who were the winners and losers under Liberal climate policy?


Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Pro- and anti-pipeline activists, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photos by Cole Burston and Alex Tétreault

The Winners

  • Kinder Morgan

Texas-based energy company Kinder Morgan experienced what most infrastructure companies could only dream of: federal taxpayers taking a dog of an asset in its portfolio off its hands. With little hesitation, the Liberals ponied up $4.4 billion to purchase the Trans Mountain Pipeline along with the rights to expand its capacity. It might get built, it might not. It might prove profitable, it might not. But for the executive team at Kinder Morgan, this Kinder Surprise Egg wasn’t made of chocolate, it was made of gold.

  • Oilsands producers

The next time a bust of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is used as a pinata at a party in Fort McMurray, the brandishers of bats may want to ask themselves this question: what exactly did the Liberals do to the oilsands to deserve such ire? It sure wasn’t the carbon tax, from which many oilsands facilities are exempt from paying a dime. More, the Liberals couldn’t even muster up the courage to be as clean as the global competition through policies like requiring oilsands to match the carbon intensity of conventional oil. And then there are those subsidies to the fossil fuel industry of at least $1.6 billion annually. The Liberals promised to do away with these but ended up keeping the chequebook open. So put down the bat and spark up a joint instead — thanks to the Liberals, unfettered emission of that type of smoke is legal, too.

  • Carbon-tax economists

Ever wonder why 11 out of every 10 economists love the carbon tax? It might have something to with the fact that the Liberals have kept 11 out of every 10 economists busy for the past four years researching, analyzing and proselytizing the carbon tax. A cottage industry has blossomed of carbon-tax economists in academia, think tanks, private consulting and government. And it doesn’t stop at a single tax. Since the federal tax is a backstop for tax regimes of provinces and territories that don’t meet the federal standard, there are up to 14 different carbon-tax scenarios to play with in Microsoft Excel. The pocket-protector set has reached their nirvana.

  • The clean-tech industry

Why have boring when you can have bling? Like giddy venture capitalists, the Liberals have been enamoured with early stage clean technologies and Budget 2017 allocated over $1.3 billion for research, development and demonstration projects. The jury is still out on whether this was money well-spent or whether the quest for “game-changing technologies” is simply an excuse to delay action using technologies we already have. It’s notable that Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s climate plan also touts the glories of yet-to-be-invented climate gadgets. So be on the lookout for a DeLorean powered by Mr. Fusion if either party wins the election.

The Losers

  • The atmosphere

If climate gods do exist, they’d no doubt be perplexed by the “climate-change leader” press lines flowing from Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s Twitter account. After all, climate gods focus singularly on the one metric that matters: greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. When the Liberals were elected in 2015, Canada’s GHG emissions were 722 million tonnes (Mt). In 2017, the most recent year of official data, they were 716 Mt, a mere 0.8 per cent drop. With oilsands production up another 10 per cent in 2018, combined with a healthy economy nationally, history could very well show that GHGs were flat to increasing during Trudeau’s term. If climate gods do exist, then watch out for thunderstorms at Liberal campaign events.

  • The clean-energy industry

Investments in clean energy, like wind and solar power, continue apace globally but have nose-dived in Canada, plummeting 34 per cent in 2018 and set to fall further in 2019. Although this is largely due to the cancellation of provincial programs by recently elected conservative governments, the federal Liberals largely failed to step in to keep the industry thriving. The Liberals also failed to reform Canada’s antiquated monopolistic electricity market with regulatory changes that provide market access to third-party clean-energy suppliers. These failures are especially embarrassing given that clean-energy investment is on the rise in Donald Trump’s America due to federal tax credits and competitive electricity markets. The bigger the hands, the bigger the clean-energy industry. Ouch!

  • Ordinary technologies and ordinary people

Retrofitting buildings with energy-efficient windows, insulation and heat sources; capturing methane in agriculture and waste operations; and sequestering carbon through tree planting and agricultural soils: these are cost-effective measures using available technologies that can be undertaken by regular people like homeowners, farmers and foresters. Despite the ease of these measures and their appeal to a broad cross-section of Canadians, these approaches were largely ignored by the Liberals during their past four years in office.

The bad news for the Liberals is that if voters ask themselves whether they were a winner or a loser under Liberal climate policy, then the Liberals may just find themselves joining the ranks of the losers on election day. SOURCE

 

 

Ontario Launches Anti-Carbon Tax TV Ads Paid For By Taxpayers

Nickels pour out of gas pumps, heating vents and grocery shelves in the ad.

Nickels pour out of a man's heating vent in a new ad paid for by Ontario taxpayers. The ad takes aim...
Nickels pour out of a man’s heating vent in a new ad paid for by Ontario taxpayers. The ad takes aim at the federal government’s carbon tax. DOUG FORD/TWITTER

TORONTO — The Ontario government is calling the federal government’s carbon tax a money drain in new TV attack ads paid for by taxpayers.

“The federal government is charging you a carbon tax,” a narrator says over video of the price at a gas station rising.

“You’re paying a nickel more per litre.”

The government-produced advertisement shows nickels pouring out of heating vents and from under piles of fruit at a grocery store.

Embedded video

Doug Ford

We’re fighting the carbon tax because it hurts seniors, workers, families and small businesses.

The people of Ontario deserve to know the real costs of this punishing tax, and we’re going to make sure they do.

The ad cites a statistic that the carbon tax will cost the average Ontario family $648 a year by 2022, but fails to mention that the federal government says it’s rebating 90 per cent of the revenue back to taxpayers.

This year, the average Ontario family will pay about $256 more because of the carbon tax but will receive a $300 rebate, according to the parliamentary budget office.

This graph from Ontario's Financial Accountability Offices compares the average cost of the Wynne government's...
FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE OF ONTARIO This graph from Ontario’s Financial Accountability Offices compares the average cost of the Wynne government’s cap-and-trade program and the federal government’s carbon tax backstop. The federal carbon tax was applied to Ontario because Premier Doug Ford’s government cancelled cap and trade.

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