Saskatchewan won’t submit climate plan for federal approval

Photo courtesy Government of Saskatchewan.

Province says Ottawa’s OK is not necessary

Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said Saskatchewan will not be seeking the federal government’s approval of its climate change plan. The federal government has said provinces that do not have an approved carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme will be subject to a federally-imposed carbon tax backstop.

“Our climate change plan does not need federal approval,” Duncan said.

“Our strategy is designed to responsibly and tangibly reduce emissions without the imposition of an unconstitutional and ineffective economy-wide carbon tax.”

Duncan refused to speculate as to whether the federal government would enact its carbon tax on Saskatchewan, or whether the provincial plan would still move forward in that scenario.

The Government of Saskatchewan has challenged the federal government’s constitutional ability to impose a carbon tax on provinces without an approved plan. Duncan said it would be hard to argue the federal government doesn’t have the authority to judge a plan and then submit a plan for approval.

‘We don’t think we need their approval. This is the right plan for the province of Saskatchewan.”

He did say he would be writing to the federal minister to inform her of what the plan is going forward, and that the province will be working with industry to develop regulations with an eye on an implementation of January 1. Duncan also decried the federal government’s assertion that Saskatchewan did not have a climate change plan.

“We do in fact have a plan,” he said.

“There has been a lot of talk that if you didn’t accept a carbon tax, then one, you didn’t believe in climate change, and two, you didn’t have a plan. This clearly isn’t the case.”

With the industrial, energy and methane emissions targets set and emissions reporting regulations in place, the province is nearing completion on its climate change plan, Duncan said.

He said more work needs to be done developing additional legislation and regulations to implement the plan, as well as to come up with a freight strategy to examine regulating emissions from transportation.

Meili to examine provincial plan

During his Wednesday stop in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili had little to say about the province’s announced industrial emissions targets.

“We need to sit down and actually dig through how well we expect it to do in terms of effectiveness, how much it will actually work to reduce emissions and what the impact will be on those different industries,” he said.

NDP Environment Critic David Forbes criticized the Sask. Party’s approach to the carbon tax debate.

“It’s a little bit rich for the Sask. Party to say they don’t want a carbon tax when they’re allowing the federal government to impose one on the province and now they are looking at what is essentially a carbon pricing plan,” he said in a written statement.

“Unfortunately, as with much of the Sask. Party’s plan to reduce emissions, we still don’t know what the price of the penalties will be and what they will be based on.”