Saskatchewan prepares to submit another carbon pricing plan to Ottawa: Premier

REGINA – Premier Scott Moe said Saskatchewan will submit another carbon pricing plan to the federal government in the coming months.

The province’s first proposal was rejected by Ottawa last July.

Moe said in a statement Wednesday that Saskatchewan has committed to replacing the federal carbon tax with its own.

Province wants regulatory control over carbon tax on fuel consumption, as well as pricing of industrial emissions from power generation and natural gas transmission pipelines, so it can invest in reducing emissions and work on carbon storage.

This would include working with high-emitting industries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Canada will not reach net zero without working closely together without industries and provinces,” Moe said earlier this week at a press conference.

“That’s why we have a request from the federal government to bring provincial control of the entire carbon tax regime in the province, away from the federal government, so that we can properly structure the plans.”

Saskatchewan already has an approved carbon pricing plan for large emitters under an outcome-based performance standards program.

The Saskatchewan Party government does not define it as a “carbon tax” because it gives big industries three options to reduce their emissions. They can contribute to a technology fund for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, buy offset credits through a cap and trade system, or meet performance standards.

Several other sectors became eligible for the program this month: chemical, wood and mineral product manufacturing; manufacturing of agricultural and industrial equipment; and food and beverage processing.

What the province lacks is a program that regulates emissions from electricity generation and natural gas transmission, which currently fall under the federal pricing plan.

The federal government has said it won’t consider new submissions until 2023, but Saskatchewan Environment Minister Warren Kaeding has said he wants that increased.

“We are in constant communication with federal ministers to see if they can expedite this timeline,” Kaeding said Wednesday.

“The sooner we can take control of this federally imposed carbon tax…the better for our residents and our businesses.”

On Monday, Moe said it was essential for provinces to control carbon pricing so that the money it raises can be redirected to industries to invest in technologies that reduce emissions.

Ottawa refunds some of the carbon tax paid on fuel, but not all of it, Kaeding said.

The Federal Ministry of Environment and Climate Change was unable to respond in time.

Last June, a law was passed enshrining the country’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050. This would mean not emitting greenhouse gases or offsetting them through actions, such as planting trees, or with technologies that capture carbon before it is released into the air.

Kaeding said many large industries in Saskatchewan have plans in place to get to net zero.

“In many cases, they just need a financial boost or support to move to the next level of development,” he said.

“Often it is good for the government to get out of the way and… support it in any way possible to ensure that innovation continues.”

In 2019, the latest year for which data is available, Saskatchewan emitted nearly 75 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to a report by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Saskatchewan is among the top emitters in Canada along with Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

Kaeding said he hopes Ottawa will agree to Saskatchewan’s next pricing plan.

“We are submitting a plan that will ultimately resemble what other jurisdictions have submitted and approved,” he said.

“We expect it to be approved by the federal government, but we have already been disappointed.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 19, 2022.

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