Madam Speaker, pricing carbon is widely recognized as an efficient way to reduce emissions at lowest cost to business and consumers and support innovation and clean growth. Carbon pricing sends an important signal to markets and provides incentives to reduce energy use through conservation and efficiency measures. For these reasons, carbon pricing is a central pillar of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, the PCF, signed by first ministers in December 2016.
Over 80% of Canadians already live in a jurisdiction that has a price on carbon pollution. In order to extend this throughout Canada, in October 2016 the Prime Minister announced the pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon pollution. This gives provinces and territories the flexibility to implement the type of system that makes sense for their circumstances: either an explicit price-based system, such as British Columbia’s carbon tax or Alberta’s carbon levy and performance-based emissions system, or cap and trade, such as in place in Quebec and Ontario. It also sets some common criteria that all systems must meet to ensure they are fair and effective. For explicit price-based systems, the carbon price is a minimum of $10 per tonne of greenhouse gas, GHG, emissions in 2018, increasing $10 per tonne GHGs annually to $50 per tonne in 2022. Additional information on the pan-Canadian approach is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2016/10/canadian-approach-pricing-carbon-pollution.html.
The federal government also committed to develop and implement a federal carbon pricing backstop system. This will only apply in any province or territory that requests it or that does not have a carbon pricing system in place in 2018 that meets the benchmark. The proposed federal carbon pricing system consists of two elements:a charge on fossil fuels that is generally payable by fuel producers or distributors; and a performance-based system for GHG emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industrial facilities to minimize competitiveness risks while ensuring a carbon price signal and incentive to reduce GHG emissions.
All direct revenue from the federal carbon pricing system will be returned to the jurisdiction of origin. Additional information on the proposed federal system is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2018/01/government_of_canadareleasesfurtherdetailsonfederalcarbon-pollut.html.
No decisions have been made about where the federal system will apply. Provinces have until September 1, 2018 to confirm their plans for pricing carbon pollution.
The Government of Canada released a paper on April 30, 2018, on the estimated results of the federal carbon pollution pricing system. This is available online at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/environment/weather/climatechange/climate-action/pricing-carbon-pollution/estimated-impacts-federal-system.html.
It is based on an illustrative, hypothetical scenario in which the four provinces with carbon pricing systems today, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, representing 80% of Canada’s population, meet the federal standard through 2022, and the other nine provinces and territories implement the federal carbon pricing system.
It finds that carbon pricing will make a significant contribution towards meeting Canada’s greenhouse gas reduction target. A price on carbon could cut carbon pollution across Canada by 80 to 90 million tonnes in 2022, once all provinces and territories have systems that meet the federal standard. This is equivalent to taking 23 million to 26 million cars off the road for a year or shutting down 20 to 23 coal-fired power plants for a year. Without this contribution, more costly regulatory interventions would be needed to meet our target.
The Government of Canada’s approach to pricing carbon pollution will ensure that GHG emissions are reduced, and Canadians are well placed to benefit from the opportunities created by the global transition under way.