After the federal government announced its plans to introduce the carbon tax, the Government of Saskatchewan took the next steps to introduce its own climate change policy. The Prairie Resilience Plan will reduce the province's greenhouse gas emissions and combat the Liberal carbon tax.
Environment Minister, Dustin Duncan, is hopeful the new legislation can take effect on January 1, 2019. The first reading in the legislature last week was the first step.
"My hope is that the Opposition will agree to pass the legislation before the fall session adjourns in December. We would like to have the legislation pass so we can implement the regulations as quickly as possible," he said.
Duncan, like many Canadians, is critical of the carbon tax and what it will mean for the country. A study was done by the University of Regina and claims a carbon tax is an ineffective way of fighting climate change. The MLA echoes the study's findings.
"It wouldn't reduce emissions by more than one million tonnes, which is not much, but it would probably take close to $16 billion dollars out of our GDP by 2030. Prairie Resilience looks at, "OK, what are we doing on our heavy-emitting industries?" The Minister said. "So this will provide for the legislative framework to be able to regulate those industries in the province. We'll see actual reductions. About 10 percent emissions reductions by those industries by 2030."
"We are also concerned that the carbon tax is going to be applied to SaskPower, and SaskPower is already regulated by the federal government that will see a 40 percent reduction by 2030. Now they're adding the carbon tax on top of that and our estimates have been as high as about $141 million dollars just next year alone on SaskPower. Which is basically passed on to the customers," Duncan explained.
After a rate drop was announced by the crown corporation earlier this year, those could be wiped out by the new carbon tax. SaskPower is just one of many companies that will be affected heavily by the federal legislation. The Sask Party is still fighting the federal government and trying to have it negated in the province.
"We think our plan is much better for Saskatchewan industry, not only in achieving emission reductions, but also ensuring our industries are competitive in Saskatchewan," Duncan said.
The Prairie Resilience policy also outlined plans to reduce methane emissions by 40-45 percent. They also plan to reduce emissions from how we create electricity by a minimum 40 percent by 2030.
Other sectors in the province have sided with the provincial government and have shown approval of the Prairie Resilience Plan. Duncan believes Saskatchewan residents will prefer the new policy over the federal carbon tax.
"Our industrial sectors that will be regulated by the Prairie Resilience Plan, we've worked very closely with them over the past year. In fact, when the announcement took place this summer of what that framework will look like and when the Prime Minister introduced the carbon tax last week, we had our stakeholders in Saskatchewan sound their support for our plan," he explained. "I think we've all worked together to create a plan that we think is a better approach than a carbon tax. One that will reduce emissions and ensure we are competitive."