For Immediate Release
Canada-Wide Carbon Tax Not the Right Approach
The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) worries about the impact a unilaterally imposed carbon tax will have on families and agriculture producers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced that provinces have until 2018 to implement a tax on carbon or a cap and trade system with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) generated from burning fuels. If a province or territory refuses to comply with the order, then the federal government will impose a $10 per tonne price on carbon for that jurisdiction which will increase each year until it reaches $50 a tonne by 2022.
According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the decision to impose this carbon tax will cost the average Canadian family approximately $524 in 2018 and will rise to $2,569 in 2022. Saskatchewan residents and local producers will be some of the hardest hit by a carbon tax on burning fuels. Saskatchewan Environment Minister Scott Moe said the carbon tax will cost each family in the province approximately $1,250 a year and the province $2.5 billion (based on $40/tonne). Those living in rural and remote areas are likely to see the largest increase in living costs because of the fuel used to travel long distances and for heating homes during our cold winter months. “Just imagine the impact this carbon tax will have on those living in rural and remote northern communities who already face higher than the average food and heating costs because of their proximity to service providers; it is worrisome,” said President Orb.
While the carbon tax will be passed onto consumers where possible, agriculture producers across Canada will be forced to absorb the cost in their bottom line. The Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture Lyle Stewart has highlighted the fact that average sized producers of 2,500 – 3000 acres could see an annual tax of $10,000. “The global market dictates what our local producers get paid for their crops. They don’t have the luxury like other industries to pass on the added costs to Canadian families but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see rising food costs,” said Orb.
SARM is supportive of the Prime Minister’s commitments under the Paris Accord to reduce GHG emissions and ensure that the global average temperature remains well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. However, a Canada-wide price on carbon isn’t the most appropriate approach for all jurisdictions to take in their efforts to combat climate change. “A one size fits all approach does not take into account regional differences. So, yes, we’re upset that the Federal Government has made this important decision on behalf of each province and territory without consultation,” said President Orb.
According to the Conference Board of Canada, one of the main challenges in reducing C02 emissions is balancing that with economic growth as it relies on energy use. The key is to create more energy efficient power generation by developing and using cleaner fuels and low-emitting electricity sources. “For a working example of how climate change can be mitigated without inhibiting economic growth, we can proudly look at what producers in Saskatchewan are achieving through zero till,” said Orb.
Agriculture producers are often pointed out as heavy GHG emitters but, in fact, they are one of many sectors already improving energy efficiency, reducing their carbon foot print, and mitigating climate change; this all being accomplished without the disincentive of a federal tax on their operations. The Saskatchewan Soil Conservation has been studying carbon sequestration in Saskatchewan since the 1990s and has found that 8.75 million new tonnes of C02 are being sequestered each and every year in Saskatchewan soil; this is the equivalent of 1.83 million cars being taken off the road. This huge win in our fight against climate change is a direct result of producers using minimum or zero till, a technique that does not disturb the soil.
Canada can and should play to the strengths of its people in mitigating climate change and use the wealth of knowledge and expertise we have locally to reduce our carbon foot print in a sustainable way. At the same time, we must be cognizant of the impact the decisions we make domestically will have globally. “We all need to do our part to address this global problem but stifling Canadian’s ability to do business isn’t going to fix things,” said Orb. The global demand for oil and gas products from developing countries is not going to decrease because a federal tax is imposed in Canada. A federal tax on carbon will only inhibit Saskatchewan’s ability to get products to those people who need them at an affordable cost. In order to reduce C02 but ensure economic growth, SARM also supports pipelines as the most environmentally friendly method for transporting oil and gas products.
“We are very concerned with what effect the imposition of a unilateral carbon tax will have on residents and producers in Saskatchewan and others who rely on Canada for energy and food. We are also quite surprised that the provinces and territories aren’t being given a fair opportunity to address climate change in their own way and that extensive consultations aren’t being conducted on this important issue,” said President Orb.
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