Screen capture of the Canadian Climate Institute’s analysis of which Canadian climate policies will contribute the most to Canada’s 2030 climate targets.Credit: Canadian Climate Institute

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault is continuing the fight for his government’s signature carbon pricing plan despite Conservative attacks and questions about the efficacy of some aspects of the policy.

A new analysis shows that the industrial emitters pricing system is responsible for more emissions reductions than the consumer fuel charge, which is under siege from the federal Conservatives and many premiers. Opposition to the tax has increased in recent days in advance of the fuel levy increase on April 1.

While the industrial pricing system is responsible for the lion’s share of emissions reductions, Guilbeault said that doesn’t detract from the reductions resulting from the consumer fuel price.

The consumer price will still comprise eight to 14 per cent of Canada’s emission reductions by 2030, and there simply isn’t low-hanging fruit like that up for grabs, said Guilbeault.

“I don’t know. I can’t find any,” he said.

The analysis by the Canadian Climate Institute looked at which federal climate policies will have the biggest impact by 2030 and found the industrial price on pollution is by far the heaviest hitter. The pricing policy applied to big industrial polluters will cut between 53 million and 90 million tonnes while the consumer carbon pricing charged on fuel purchases will contribute between 19 million and 22 million tonnes annually.

“This analysis clearly demonstrates that climate policy is delivering results — with industrial carbon pricing leading the pack,” said Rick Smith, president of the institute.

“Robust large emitter trading systems are fundamental to any credible climate policy package in Canada.”

Screen capture of the Canadian Climate Institute’s analysis of which Canadian climate policies will contribute the most to Canada’s 2030 climate targets.

When asked if the consumer fuel charge is worth the political cost, Guilbeault said fighting climate change isn’t easy and takes political will. The Liberals and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have backed their carbon pricing system despite repeated attacks from Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, who tried —and failed — to dissolve the government with a non-confidence motion calling for a “carbon tax election.” Poilievre was scheduled to be at a fundraiser in Toronto during the vote on his motion Thursday evening.

Guilbeault said he can’t see a path to achieving Canada’s emissions reduction targets without carbon pricing systems.

“Pierre Poilievre and the Conservative Party, if they win the next election, they will kill just about every measure that we have put in place to fight climate change,” said Guilbeault. Eight environmental groups recently put out a statement warning that the ongoing efforts to pause carbon price increases — and cancel the system altogether — are part of an “ideologically driven effort to limit all climate action.”

The industrial pricing system is doing some heavy lifting when it comes to Canada’s climate targets, but the federal benchmark still needs to be strengthened, according to Canada’s commissioner of environment and sustainable development.

“Some policies in Canada’s climate plan will reduce emissions more than others — but they all add up. Every megatonne of emissions matters,” said Anna Kanduth, director of 440 Megatonnes, in an emailed statement to Canada’s National Observer.

Even if every policy in the country currently legislated or under development is added up, Canada is still likely to fall short of its 2030 emissions target, said Kanduth.

“Any weakening or backtracking on individual policies would require new or stronger measures to fill the emissions gap,” she said.

“When you’re not on track to meet your climate targets, it’s incredibly important to use every single tool in the toolbox,” said Julia Levin, associate director of national climate for Environmental Defence, in an interview with Canada’s National Observer.

“We have to go after the emissions from the biggest source of emissions — the oil and gas sector — but … even though the fuel charge is way smaller than the large emitter programs, eight to 14 per cent is not a negligible amount of emissions reductions,” said Levin. Some of the policy measures that were analyzed, like the clean fuel regulations and zero-emission vehicle standards, will have a larger impact after 2030, she noted.

“After a week of hearing the official Opposition continue to spread misinformation about climate policy, it is refreshing to have a dose of science and evidence because that’s how we should be having conversations in Canada, not based on false information and cynical strategies designed to undermine climate action,” said Levin.

Poilievre is adamant that if his party wins the next election, consumer carbon pricing is toast. He has been less clear about the big emitters system.

Canada’s national pollution pricing program applies only in jurisdictions that do not have equivalent policies of their own.

Only Quebec, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories have their own policies for both consumers and big industry.

Six provinces have introduced their own provincial systems for big emitters, all of them because of the federal requirement.

Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Yukon and Nunavut use both the federal consumer levy and Ottawa’s big emitters program.

— With files from The Canadian Press

By Natasha Bulowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 22, 2024 at 08:45

This item reprinted with permission from   Canada's National Observer   Ottawa, Ontario
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