Canada unveils carbon price, energy-producing provinces unhappy

Mon Oct 3, 2016 6:01pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp and David Ljunggren

TORONTO/OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's federal government on Monday vowed to bring in a minimum price on carbon emissions by 2018, prompting one energy-producing province to threaten legal action and another to demand approval of an oil pipeline in return.

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who took power last November promising to do more to protect the environment, said carbon pollution would cost C$10 a tonne in 2018, rising by C$10 a year until it reaches C$50 in 2022.

Trudeau said the 10 provinces - which have traditionally resented what they see as federal heavy handedness - could either implement a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade market by then. Those that do neither will have a price imposed by Ottawa.

Trudeau said his measures would help Canada meet greenhouse gas emission cuts agreed under the Paris climate change accords.

But official data show Canada has little chance of meeting its goals, in part because of booming emissions from the energy sector. Trudeau also blamed what he called inaction by the previous Conservative government.

"We're not going to shun science and we're not going to put off the inevitable," Trudeau told parliament, saying a carbon price would improve Canadians' health and spur investment in green businesses.

Energy-producing provinces were not impressed. Brad Wall, premier of Saskatchewan, accused Trudeau of betrayal and said he would consider legal action.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley - usually a political ally of Trudeau - said she would "not be supporting this proposal absent serious concurrent progress on energy infrastructure".   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie