Jean Charest climate plan: no to consumer carbon prices, current emissions targets

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OTTAWA. Conservative leader candidate Jean Charest is promising to abolish the consumer price of carbon set by the Liberal government and abolish the federal portion of the HST on low-carbon purchases.

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He also promises to stick to the older goal of cutting the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 if he wins the Sept. 10 leadership election and returns the Conservatives to power.

The plan, posted on Tuesday, is high-level and does not include details on how much it will cost.

He promises to eliminate Trudeau’s “consumer carbon tax,” which he calls the current federal carbon price.

He also proposes making industrial emissions pay the price of carbon emissions as part of an overall “greater focus on industrial emissions”.

“We want to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible,” former Quebec premier Charest said in an interview on Monday.

“We believe that if we take this path, we will be more efficient, more flexible, able to achieve better results than if we took the path of a more complex consumption tax or consumer pricing.”

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The federal carbon levy, currently set at $50 per tonne, applies directly to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, where consumers receive rebate checks from the federal government in those provinces.

All other provinces have their own carbon pricing systems that meet minimum federal standards.

Charest said he would respect provincial jurisdiction to decide how best to cut their emissions, noting differences between, for example, Quebec, which has a lot of hydroelectric power, and Alberta, which has an oil and gas economy.

“It just makes sense that we can consider different approaches given different realities,” he said.

Charest said he agreed with the main goal of achieving zero emissions by 2050. However, he says he will not meet the 2030 target that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to the country as part of the United Nations climate deal that would cut greenhouse gas emissions. associated emissions are 40-45% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade.

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Instead, Charest says he will stick to the 30% target set by former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which he called more achievable and realistic.

“We’ve watched this movie, I don’t know how many times, about goal setting and failure.”

How far conservatives are willing to go to tackle the problem of carbon emissions that contribute to the warming of the planet is a question the party is facing as scientists warn of the need for faster action. The ruling liberals have also made climate change one of their top priorities.

One of the most popular slogans of devout conservatives, many of whom hail from Saskatchewan and Alberta, is to abolish the carbon tax. This is said to be ineffective and punitive for families.

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His fellow Conservative leader candidate Pierre Poilivre has already pledged to do so. He had previously criticized Charest for his support of carbon pricing and suggested that Charest, who has yet to make his climate plan public, is backing Trudeau’s measures.

When Charest was prime minister of Quebec, he introduced cap-and-trade, which is a form of carbon pricing. He also served as Federal Environment Minister under former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Many party members and policy experts followed what he would promise in the climate case.

To incentivize Canadians to reduce their own carbon footprint, Charest’s plan removes the federal HST portion of purchases such as electric cars, Energy Star appliances and high-performance windows.

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His campaign said it was up to the provinces whether they decide to cut their parts of the HST.

It also promises to provide tax incentives for carbon capture and storage technologies and carbon dioxide removal facilities.

Carbon capture and storage involves capturing industrial emissions and storing them underground so they don’t enter the atmosphere, where they contribute to global warming.

The Liberal government has earmarked $2.6 billion over five years for tax breaks for companies that invest in projects using the technology.

Charest’s plan also promises to include nuclear power in a new federal green bond program as part of promoting greener technologies it says Canada should export.

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The application of carbon frontier tariffs and accelerated approval of projects to reduce emissions are also in his plan.

Stuart Elgy, director of the University of Ottawa’s Environmental Institute, who was shown Charest’s feedback plan, said he found it credible. He added that Charest’s track record in government also makes him the biggest contender in the climate-conscious race.

Algy said he liked the proposal to turn off HST for low-carbon products, which he thinks will help consumers.

“I liked that he would put a price on industrial carbon emissions. It would be better if this price applied to all emissions,” he said.

“The main weakness of the plan is that there will be no carbon pricing for consumers…so you will have to use other tools to achieve those emission reductions.”

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Former party leader Erin O’Toole found himself in a quandary with his faction and broader party membership last year after he surprised them by accepting a carbon levy on consumer goods like fuel after campaigning as a leader candidate for decarbonizing liberals. price.

Michael Bernstein, chief executive of Clean Prosperity, a nonprofit that advocates for conservatives to embrace carbon pricing as the most cost-effective way to cut emissions, said on Monday he was “not too surprised” to see a consumer exemption.

Bernstein said opposition to politics has become a core part of a conservative identity for many party members that goes beyond the “facts and figures” of what it actually does.

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