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This article was published 23/11/2015 (637 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — The Manitoba government is not looking at implementing an economy-wide carbon tax as part of its new climate change strategy, Premier Greg Selinger told the Free Press Monday.
Selinger made the revelation in an interview at the end of a meeting between premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa where climate change was the main topic on the agenda. The meeting comes ahead of the United Nations climate change conference which begins in Paris Nov. 30. It was intended to try and allow Canada to provide a united front at the meeting, where a new international agreement to reduce global emissions is anticipated.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley pre-empted the day with her Sunday announcement on an Alberta climate-change strategy that includes phasing out coal-fired electricity and introducing a province-wide carbon tax on every party of the economy. The tax, $20 per tonne of carbon emissions beginning in 2017, rising to $30 a year later, will increase the price of gas, utilities and the price of doing business for industries including the oilsands.
Notley told national reporters after the premiers’ meeting that Alberta is telling the world "it is possible to be an energy producer in a thoughtful and transparent way."
Her announcement will allow Canada to take a solid change to the UN meeting to present to its international counterparts, many of whom have accused Canada of being a laggard on climate change in recent years. Alberta is the country’s largest emitter, accounting for 37 per cent of all emissions. Manitoba accounts for less than three per cent.
Selinger intends to release the province’s new climate change strategy Dec. 3, the final day of the legislature sitting before Christmas and just before he leaves to attend the Paris conference. It will include a cap-and-trade system targeting large emitters. Selinger said Notley’s plan gives "motivation" to the provinces that haven’t announced strategies yet but Manitoba will not follow the Alberta model of an economy-wide carbon tax.
"Cap and trade will allow us to set thresholds that we need to achieve to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "It’s another mechanism that gets us to a place where you find a way to be disciplined on reducing your greenhouse gas emissions."
It will only be a part of the whole plan, however.
"We are going to have some novel ideas on how we can achieve further greenhouse gas emissions," said Selinger.
Manitoba in 2008 enshrined the emissions targets of the Kyoto treaty into legislation but had to admit in 2013 it wasn’t going to meet them and has been working on a new strategy ever since.
The premiers came out of Monday’s meeting with Trudeau spouting rhetoric about having a good discussion, where officials were asked to leave the room so just the premiers and Trudeau were there to be open and frank about what was needed.
"It’s not enough just to have targets, we need a plan to meet those targets," said Trudeau. "That is what we started tonight."
But any specifics that were agreed upon were not forthcoming, other than that Canada has to do more to cut its emissions across the board.
Trudeau’s approach has been to let the province’s decide on their own what strategies work best for their economies and their realities, which was applauded by the premiers at the meeting. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who has spoken against the idea of setting a national price on carbon, said he supported Trudeau’s approach during the federal campaign and he supports it now.
But he said as long as Canada is mindful of the impact on the oil-dependent provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan, he thinks a balance can be achieved to cut emissions and protect the economy.
"We need to do better in terms of our record in climate change," said Wall. "Our province needs to do better, and I can talk a little bit about that, but we can’t forget the economy."
The premiers also discussed the Syrian refugee crisis and Canada’s hope to bring in 25,000 refugees by the end of the year. Selinger said Trudeau provided good updates on how the plan will unfold and what security measures are in place. The details of the plan are to be released publicly Tuesday in Ottawa.