There are plenty of points in Premier Scott Moe’s platform that I disagree with.
However, speaking with him at the recent Saskatchewan Party barbecue on Aug. 1, Moe made sense on why Saskatchewan; along with Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Manitoba, are fighting back against the federal government’s carbon tax plan.
In 2015, 195 countries signed the United Nations Paris Agreement, with countries “agreeing to keep global temperature rise well below 2C, by limiting harmful emissions to stave off the worst impacts of climate change on health, food security, and extreme weather.”
The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change is Canada’s way to commit to the agreement, however, this has not been something that premiers from across Canada are willing to get behind.
One part of the discussion is around a blanket policy that is going to similarly impact very different provinces. Each premier has their own plan for fighting climate change and reducing emissions, including Moe.
“We’ve worked very closely with industry and agriculture in recognizing where our opportunities are to reduce our emissions but also to ensure our sequestration opportunities,” he says.
A University of Calgary 2016 study defined the goal of the Canadian carbon tax quite clearly, “the primary objective is to make polluters pay, while giving them the freedom to decide how to respond to the tax.”
Another part of the discussion is the fact that markets without a carbon tax seem to have an advantage over those that do not. It will be a challenge for Canadian markets to appear competitive since polluters, the majority of which are commodity producers, have the freedom to take their production to places where it is cheaper.
The federal government is starting to admit that carbon tax will have an impact on the Canadian and provincial economies, says Moe, and it is because of this that they need to take it one step further and eliminate carbon tax at the federal level.
While Moe seems hopeful that Saskatchewan is already playing its part in reducing carbon emissions, as well as other premiers with their own plans, will that be enough?
Anything done to reduce emissions will have to be done worldwide for them to have an impact, says the U of C study.
“Emissions would have to fall below the natural sequestration rate in order to eventually start reducing the atmospheric concentration. A reduction in global CO2 emissions that still leaves positive net emissions would therefore not translate into a reduction in the global stock of atmospheric CO2, only a slowing of the rate of increase.”
This does not mean that we should be doing nothing, but we should be making sure that what we are going to do is going to be effective.
The economy always seems to be the go to scapegoat for countries and leaders to get out of talking about climate change.
In Saskatchewan, according to Moe, we are sharing our green technology, not only as a way to reduce emissions in our own industries but also to help reduce emissions in other countries.
Green technology creates jobs and innovation, so we do have to take that into consideration when looking at the economic impacts of reducing carbon emissions.
One question that remains is are we doing enough to make an impact?
This is not a simple issue but it is time to let go of things that are not going to work and look for solutions that do.