Saskatchewan Minister of Environment Dustin Duncan spoke about the federal carbon tax during a breakfast meeting at the Lloydminster Golf and Curling Centre Tuesday hosted by the Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce. Duncan was introduced by chamber president Dabir Naqvi. GEFF LEE LSS PHOTO
Saskatchewan’s Minister of Environment Dustin Duncan urges the Lloydminster business community to support the province in its fight against a federal carbon tax.
Duncan called the tax an ineffective policy that doesn’t work for Saskatchewan’s export economy during a breakfast speech Tuesday at the Lloydminster Golf and Curling Centre, hosted by the Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce.
He said whether it’s agriculture, oil, uranium or the potash industry those economic sectors in Saskatchewan are competing with industries in countries that don’t have a carbon tax.
“The United States is not going to have a carbon tax and we are seeing the flight of capital already,” said Duncan.
“You look at the oil industry. There have been a lot of investment dollars that have left this country—a carbon tax will not help when it comes to that competitive issue.”
Duncan said the tax will do little to ease global climate change given the fact Canada produces just 1.6 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
By contrast, Saskatchewan produces just 10 per cent of Canada’s emissions or about 75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
“So Saskatchewan accounts for 10 per cent of the 1.6 per cent of the world’s emissions,” said Duncan to put it into perspective.
He said Saskatchewan could get to zero emissions and it would have basically zero impact on global climate change.
Canada’s stated goal is to reduce GHG emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
By not signing the federal climate change plan earlier this year, Saskatchewan loses a guaranteed $62 million in funding for emission-reduction programs in a revenue neutral tax.
Duncan calls that a shell game where the government grabs it on one hand and gives it back with the other hand.
“It begs the question, what is the point of collecting it in the first place?” he asked.
Duncan thinks the federal government doesn’t have the constitutional authority to impose a tax on one province that doesn’t want its own carbon tax either.
The province is asking the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to decide whether the new federal carbon tax bill, the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, is “unconstitutional in whole or in part.”
“As premier (Scott) Moe has indicated, provinces are not subsidiaries of the federal government,” said Duncan.
“We are urging all provinces to intervene on our behalf even if they support the carbon tax.”
He said if the provinces cede ground to the feds on the carbon tax, there is no stopping them from continuing to increase the tax as it ramps up from a planned $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide to $50 a tonne in five years.
Duncan said the federal plan is not needed for a number of reasons.
“We’re going to be coming out in the coming days with a paper that will show the carbon tax will not reduce emissions in Saskatchewan based on the way our economy is structured, based on the pillars of our economy,” he said.
He said the federal carbon tax is not going to reduce emissions either.
“If this is all about a 30 per cent reduction (GHG), then we have pretty good evidence in Saskatchewan that a carbon tax won’t reduce emissions; it will just harm the economy,” stressed Duncan.
Saskatchewan has its own climate change policy called Prairie Resilience that Duncan says looks at not only reducing emissions, but also ensuring the province is resilient to the changes of climate change.
“First and foremost, how do we ensure that we are resilient to the change of climate; how do we measure and monitor that and report it to the people of Saskatchewan?” he asked.
“That’s a big focus on our plan, but we are also going to have performance standards of heavy emitting industries so we can set in place the standard that they need to achieve when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions.”
He said companies that exceed that standard will have to come into compliance either through reducing emissions through paying into a technology fund that will pay for technology to reduce their emissions, or perhaps purchase carbon through an offset market.
“There’s a number of ways that they will be able to keep in compliance, so that if this is really about achieving emissions reductions, that’s the way we would best achieve emissions reductions,” said Duncan.
Earlier this year SaskPower reported its carbon capture and storage (CCS) process at the Boundary Dam Power Station near Estevan has sequestered more than two million tonnes of carbon dioxide since operations started in 2014.