Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna speaks during the Canada 2020 Conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)

Feds ease carbon tax thresholds

Alberta, B.C., Manitoba and Quebec have carbon pricing plans expected to meet requirements for 2019

Bowing to concerns about international competitiveness, the Trudeau government is scaling back carbon pricing requirements for some of the country’s heaviest energy users, and signalling that more easing could come before the plan takes effect in 2019.

Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued new requirements that will increase the emissions threshold at which polluters will have to pay a carbon price.

The system will only affect industries in provinces which don’t have their own federally-approved carbon pricing system. All provinces and territories have to submit their carbon pricing plans by September, and if they don’t meet federal requirements, consumers and industries in those provinces will be subject to part or all of the federal system.

That includes a minimum carbon price of $20 per tonne of emissions for most fuels such as gasoline, diesel, propane and natural gas. Larger industrial emitters whose annual emissions exceed 50,000 tonnes will be exempted from paying the carbon price on their fuel inputs, and instead pay it on what they emit over a certain amount.

In January, the federal government suggested that threshold would be set at 70 per cent of the average emissions intensity for their industry. The carbon price would apply to any emissions exceeding the threshold, and companies that emit below the threshold will receive credits from the government they can trade to companies that exceed the limit, to create a market incentive for companies to find a way to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint.

Emissions intensity is the amount of greenhouse gases produced per unit of production.

READ MORE: Ontario, Saskatchewan premiers unite to oppose federal carbon plan

After a two-phase review that looked at historic emissions and trade exposure for several industries, the federal government has decided to raise that threshold.

Cement, iron, lime and nitrogen fertilizer producers will have their threshold raised from 70 per cent to 90 per cent. The other affected industries, such as mining, potash, pulp and paper, and oil refineries, will have the threshold increased from 70 per cent to 80 per cent.

The government is accepting comments from industry on the plan with an aim to finalizing the threshold system this fall, for implementation in 2019.

The revisions come as big industries face competitive threats from south of the border in the form of corporate tax cuts and protectionist tariffs, and as Ottawa prepares to replace Ontario’s cap-and-trade system with its own carbon levy.

The new Progressive Conservative government in Ontario has eliminated the province’s cap-and-trade system and is joining Saskatchewan in a court case challenging the federal government’s jurisdiction to impose a carbon price on provinces.

Alberta, B.C., Manitoba and Quebec all have carbon pricing plans that are expected to meet federal requirements for 2019, meaning the federal system will not be imposed there. Nova Scotia has a cap and trade system that will kick in next year that also could meet federal requirements.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Northwest mobile unit to help those at heart of mental health, addiction crisis

Province, Northern Health unveils new unit in Terrace to bridge gaps in services

Move natural gas pipeline, MP suggests

Coastal GasLink could then avoid opposition

Coastal GasLink violates terms of permit

Tree clearing took place outside Kitimat

Doctor recruiting drive showing results

Crisis point has now passed

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Bobrovsky perfect as Blue Jackets blank Canucks 5-0

Vancouver shut out for 10th time this season

Story of Wet’suwet’en Chief Alfred Joseph being told

Song of the Earth on Chief Gisday’wa will be launched in Hagwilget

Houston woman gets two years for aggravated assault

Ewald pleads guilty; trial of co-accused Calvin Dyrland begins in Smithers B.C. court

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Most Read