The Scheer Plan Report: Your Questions, Our Answers

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On July 10, Clean Prosperity and EnviroEconomics released a report that assessed Andrew Scheer’s Climate Plan and the impact it would have on households and the environment. Here are a few questions we thought you might have about that report, along with our answers to them.

Why did you do this report?

Climate change is an important issue for Canadians, and it’s going to weigh heavily on their decisions this fall when we go to the polls. Polls continue to show that Canadians want to support leaders that take climate change seriously, and we want to make sure that they have all the information they’ll need when it comes time to decide who they think is doing that. This report gives them the facts on the Scheer climate plan: what it will cost them, and how effective it will be at reducing emissions.

What does it mean for the average family?

The Scheer plan would cost the average family $295 by 2022. That’s because it would eliminate the carbon tax rebate that currently leaves 8/10 households better off financially, and it would add more expensive regulations like a subsidy for home renovations. And while it costs them more money, it doesn’t deliver any additional emissions reductions compared to the path Canada is currently on. Under the Scheer plan, it will be very difficult for Canada to meet its Paris target.

What are the Paris targets, and how does that relate to this report?

As one of the 174 countries that signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, Canada pledged to reduce its emissions by 30% below its 2005 levels by 2030. We still have a lot of work to do in order to get here. And while we’re happy to see the Conservative Party of Canada release a detailed plan that maps out how it wants to address climate change, this report shows that their plan won’t get us to the 2030 targets. In fact, it gets us further away than the current federal plan. And it relies on policies and ideas that will cost us all more to get there — $3.8 billion by 2022, or $295 per household. Why would we want to pay more money to get fewer emissions reductions?

One of the signature parts of the plan is the removal of the carbon tax. Why are you opposed to that?

A carbon tax is the fairest and lowest-cost way to reduce our emissions because it gives individuals and companies the freedom to figure out how they want to reduce their emissions, rather than using government regulation. Removing the carbon tax and trying to address climate change is a bit like trying to build a house without a hammer.

The carbon tax money is also sent back to families and businesses as a carbon rebate. So cancelling the carbon tax means getting rid of the rebates, and that’s bad news if you’re one of the 8/10 households that gets more money from that rebate than they pay in carbon taxes. As a result, the Scheer plan will leave the average household with $295 less by 2022. That’s money we’d rather see in their hands. Calculate your rebate here.

The Scheer plan has things like a Green Homes Tax Credit, which is a subsidy for green renovations. Why don’t you support that?

We think improving the energy efficiency of your home is a great idea. But it’s wasteful and ineffective to have the government subsidize people’s retrofits. The government ends up paying a lot of people who were going to do retrofits anyway. That’s why these programs end up being so expensive. The Scheer plan’s Green Homes Tax Credit is very similar to a program that former Prime Minister Harper tried, and that cost $439 per tonne of emissions reduced. That’s more than ten times as expensive as the current carbon tax, and doesn’t come with a rebate.

Okay, but what about the technology — shouldn’t we be investing in that?

We should! But that’s one of the great things about carbon pricing. Instead of expensive and inefficient subsidies or tax credits, a price on carbon sends a clear message to innovators and the market — and will be far more effective in supporting clean technology and the Canadians that are developing it. Markets work, and we should be using them here.

The plan talks about reducing emissions abroad, presumably so we can avoid hurting the domestic economy. Doesn’t that make sense?

We can reduce emissions abroad, but that can’t be an excuse to avoid taken action in Canada. We’re one of the 10 largest global emitters when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. If we’re going to act with the rest of the world to solve the urgent challenge of climate change, we need to take action domestically too. And acting comes with economic benefits: as we shift our economy towards cleaner sources of energy, we create good jobs and give Canadian entrepreneurs the chance to export their products abroad.

Reducing global emissions also faces some technical challenges. For example, there’s currently no agreement that would allow Canada to claim emissions reductions that take place in other countries — which makes sense, since those countries would want to claim those reductions themselves to meet their own Paris targets.

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