New Brunswick is considering how to strengthen its existing plan to fight climate change, and according to its Premier, it is not ruling out introducing a price on carbon either through a revenue-neutral tax or by joining one of North America’s two existing emissions trading schemes.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Paris climate summit, Brian Gallant told Carbon Pulse that his province was in talks with participants in both the RGGI and WCI emissions trading scheme, as well as looking at the possibility of going down the tax route rather than markets.
“When it comes to a price on carbon, we’ve made it very clear that we’re looking at it. Everything’s on the table and we’re not considering one mechanism or approach more than another,” Gallant said.
“We’ve committed to strengthening our climate change action plan … [but] we’re going to make sure it is based on evidence and an inter-jurisdictional scan to see what’s happening across the country and the world. We’re looking at what’s working and what’s not. We’ll consider all of it, and we want to give the chance to New Brunswickers and stakeholders to weigh in,” he said.
Gallant also highlighted New Brunswick’s “great cooperation” with the US state governments from the New England region and other eastern Canadian premiers.
The group of 10 eastern states and provinces this summer committed to cut their carbon pollution by 35-45% below 1990 levels by 2030.
The states form part of the RGGI cap-and-trade programme, which covers power sector emissions in nine north-eastern US states.
Quebec is linked to California under WCI, and Ontario and Manitoba are due to connect to that programme later this decade.
New Brunswick’s previous Progressive Conservative (PC) government in 2014 pledged to cut the province’s emissions by 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and 75-85% below 2001 levels by 2050.
According to government data, the province’s emissions have fallen to 15.7 million tonnes in 2013 from almost 20.6 million tonnes in 2005, but New Brunswick’s two main political parties are clashing over the cause of the drop.
The PC party claims it came as a result of policies brought in under its government that targeted fossil fuel-based power plants and low-carbon electricity, adding that this drop serves as an argument against introducing a provincial carbon price.
But Gallant and his Liberal party have countered that the reductions were due to a weaker economy under PC rule.
Regardless, according to projections released earlier this year the province is off track towards meeting its 2020 goal.
If it carries on with business as usual, its GHG output is estimated to be 17.8 million tonnes by 2020 – nearly 10% above 1990 levels.
By Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org