Andrew Scheer’s environmental plan, to be announced today, removes the most essential tool we have in the fight against climate change – a carbon tax and rebate. Without a carbon tax, Scheer’s plan has to rely on more costly regulations that will require significant government intervention in the economy, while increasing costs for families.
A carbon tax and rebate is known to be the lowest cost, and most pro-growth means of reducing carbon emissions. Any serious plan to fight climate change must include a strong price on carbon pollution.
While Andrew Scheer has claimed the carbon tax increases household costs, a recent study by the Parliamentary Budget Office, found that 8 out of 10 families will receive back more in rebates than they pay in added costs. Only the wealthiest 20% would pay more, and their cost would be about $4 per month.
By removing the carbon tax, Scheer’s plan eliminates thousands in rebates that could have helped families reduce their carbon footprint. A family of 4 in Ontario, for example, will now lose over $2475 they would’ve received in carbon rebates between 2020 and 2023, the term of the next government.
Further, Andrew Scheer’s claim that the carbon tax hurts the economy runs contrary to the facts. British Columbia has had a price on carbon for a decade and currently enjoys the fastest growing economy in Canada. Since announcing the plan to price carbon, Canada has seen a 60% increase in foreign direct investment, and the unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest rate since 1976.
The Conservative plan talks up reductions from exporting clean Canadian products such as natural gas. But there’s no way to verify that this natural gas will offset dirtier coal, and there’s evidence that leaks from natural gas pipelines would offset most or all of the emission reductions. The underlying logic is also unreliable – Scheer has cherry-picked several exports that happen to be low in their emissions intensity, while ignoring the fact that we have other exports, such as oil or steel, that are emissions intensive relative to other global producers.
Additionally, Scheer has proposed a technology fund that sounds a lot like a similar technology fund, known as the Carbon Trust, proposed by Premier Ford. Like his proposal for energy efficiency, a technology fund tends to pay businesses for projects that were going to be undertaken anyway, increasing costs and wasting money.
A similar technology fund to the one proposed by Scheer’s plan has been attempted in Australia, where it has consistently failed to reduce emissions. The Emissions Reduction Fund, a $2.2-billion taxpayer-funded pool pays companies to reduce their carbon emissions, and farmers and landowners to reduce their carbon footprint through offsets, such as planting trees.
In Australia, the ERF has not only been ineffective at reducing emissions, but it’s also effectively stifled innovation as powerful and well-established firms or sectors lobby and attract its subsidies, limiting the opportunity for smaller, more transformative organizations to grow.
There is one area where Scheer’s plan deserves a better grade – the industrial emitters program. That’s because he is proposing carbon pricing to regulate these large polluters, even if he won’t call it that. Carbon pricing programs for industrial emitters that consider the intensity of each sector’s emissions is a well-established policy that has been adopted by many Conservative Premiers, from Jason Kenney to Doug Ford. That’s because, at some level, anyone interested in reducing carbon emissions recognizes that pricing is the lowest-cost way to do so.
Lastly, the reductions Scheer is proposing to achieve from funding projects abroad is a worthwhile pursuit, but certainly no substitute for reductions at home. In fact, the international agreement on which these international credits rely upon explicitly states that these types of traded credits should only be applied to increase “ambition”. If we’re going to avoid the worst impacts of climate change in the short time we have left, we can’t only help other countries reduce emissions – we also have an obligation to reduce our own emissions too.
“By repealing the carbon tax, Andrew Scheer is taking away the best and lowest cost way to fight climate change. It’s like trying to build a house without a hammer,” said Michael Bernstein, Executive Director of Canadians for Clean Prosperity. “Any credible plan to tackle climate change would include a carbon tax. Instead, Andrew Scheer’s plan is going to cost Canadians more and take away the rebates that help families cope”
“We strongly encourage Andrew Scheer to reconsider his plans to rely on emissions reductions from abroad. Why would he send Canadian money to other countries when we can get these reductions at home through a carbon tax, and then return the money right to families?”
- A family of four in Ontario this year was entitled to a $307 carbon rebate, by 2022, the rebate for that family will grow to $718
- The Parliamentary Budget Office has projected that 80% of households covered by the federal carbon tax will receive more back in rebates than they pay in carbon tax costs. Only the wealthiest 20% will pay more
- Doug Ford’s proposed plan to cut emissions, which relies on regulations similar to the Andrew Scheer plan, would cost Ontario twice as much to achieve the same reductions under the federal backstop. For more, see https://ontarioclimateplan.ca
Contact: Mollie Anderson