SASKATOON – A mix of two approaches to carbon reduction, found in Western and Eastern Canada, would be most effective in curbing emissions, according to a Saskatchewan resource economist, days before the nation’s leaders are expected to discuss climate change.
“If we really want to be serious about tackling carbon, we have to get at all aspects of the economy,” said Joel Bruneau, a professor in the University of Saskatchewan economics department.
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Next week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to host a first ministers’ meeting in Vancouver, where officials have indicated a large focus will be on creating a national strategy to curb emissions. Bruneu said many jurisdictions are looking at implementing a carbon reduction strategy that incorporates taxation, as well as a cap and trade program.
A carbon tax usually adds fractions of a dollar on a litre of fuel, like gasoline or propane, while cap and trade sets a limit on emissions. If a company is above the limit they can buy carbon credits and if they’re below, they can sell the credits.
“The problem with a cap and trade system is it’s not going to be able to target households, cars, trucks, transportation sectors because those are far too small users to engage in these trading systems,” said Bruneau.
“You’re really thinking cap and trade is for really large emitters, but not for small emitters and a big portion of our carbon emissions are with these small emitters.”
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The provinces of Ontario and Quebec currently employ a cap and trade program, while British Columbia has implemented a carbon tax since 2008.
“For an average person, it’s enough to notice, but not necessarily a huge financial burden,” Bruneau said of B.C.’s program.
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Last Friday, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall spoke out against a potential national carbon tax, citing the struggling resource sector as one reason to not proceed.
“The last thing we need right now is a tax increase, or a new federal carbon tax or frankly a provincial carbon levy,” said Wall to reporters on Friday.