Trudeau, Premiers Agree on Climate Change Framework

By: Laura Steiner

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the majority of the Premiers have signed a framework on Climate Change.  The agreement included six things:

• developing new building codes to ensure that buildings use less energy, saving money for households and businesses;

• deploying more electric charging stations to support zero-emitting vehicles, which is an integral part of the future of transportation;

• expanding clean electricity systems, promoting inter-ties, and using smart-grid technologies to phase out the reliance on coal, make more efficient use of existing power supplies, and ensure a greater use of renewable energy;

• reducing methane emission from the oil and gas sector;

• protecting and enhancing carbon stored in forested lands, wetlands and agricultural lands; and

• setting an example and driving significant reductions in emissions from government operations.

“This framework builds on the actions of provincial and territorial governments to reduce GHG (Green House Gasses) emissions and identifies actions that will seize the many economic opportunities afforded by clean growth,” The Premiers said in a collective statement.

“The new agreement acknowledges existing actions taken by provinces and territories to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including Ontario’s cap and trade program.”Ontario’s will be implemented beginning in 2017, and is expected to raise gas, and heating oil prices. 

British Columbia, and Quebec both have Cap& Trade policies.  B.C’s is revenue neutral.   Alberta Premier Rachel Notley will implement a carbon tax beginning in 2017 at $20/tonne.  This will rise to $30/tonne in 2018.  It’s expected to make the province $3 billion in revenue.

Manitoba, Saskatchewan Refuse to Sign

Manitoba and Saskatchewan did not sign the agreement.  Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall was concerned over its economic impact.  “Well, here we are making this huge change in how we do business in Canada…and there’s been no economic impact from the feds,” Wall told CTV News

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister meanwhile, tied his province’s signature to an increase in Healthcare funding.  “Manitoba has been equally clear on our desire to seek meaningful progress on a partnership with the federal government on sustainable, long-term healthcare funding,” he said in a statement.  Pallister confirmed his province’s commitment to a made-in Manitoba measures on the environment.

The expiry of a health accord will mean $39 million difference in the province’s finances next year.  Manitoba has had its credit rating downgraded twice in the last year-and-a-half, which raises the cost of borrowing.  “Combine that with the federal government taking tens of millions of dollars out or treasury, and the compounding growth in health-care service needs, and you’ve got a recipe for a serious, serious, problem,” Pallister  told the Winnipeg Free Press.