Canadian PM Trudeau proposes significant prices to be put on carbon emissions

In an impassioned speech to the House of Commons, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau presented a strong proposal to reduce carbon pollution by putting a price on all carbon by 2018. Trudeau had already outlined his support for a clean energy transition, and this plan showed that he is serious in acting now to cut emissions and to use it as a springboard for new opportunities in the Canadian economy.

The Prime Minister started his speech by speaking of failings by previous governments and the effect that these failings have already had. He didn’t dance around the topic of climate change, like so many leaders have in the past, and continue to do, but instead confronted it head on, and showed a clear resolve to tackle it.

“After decades of inaction, after years of missed opportunities, we will finally take real and concrete measures to build a clean economy, create more opportunities for Canadians, and make out world better for our children and grandchildren,” Trudeau stated. “Mr. Speaker, we will not walk away from science, and we will not deny the unavoidable.”

Carbon polluters pay the price

Not wanting to make wishy-washy statements, the PM went on to outline a clear plan to reduce carbon emissions by putting a price on carbon across the whole country as of 2018. The proposed price will start at a minimum of $10 per tonne in 2018, going up a further $10 each year, to eventually reach $50 per tonne in 2022. At this stage it will be reviewed again.

Interestingly, different areas of the country would have a choice for how to incorporate this price, by either adding it directly onto carbon pollution, or by adopting a cap-and-trade system. Additionally, each province will keep the revenues that are generated under the program. But the PM was clear to point out that for now this is only a proposal, and is still open for discussion from different groups within society.

“Over the next two months, the government will collaborate closely with the provinces, territories and Aboriginal organizations to finalize this plan,” Trudeau continued. “These discussions are essential, because we know that no plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can succeed without the help of our provincial and territorial partner, who have already shown great leadership in tackling climate change.”

Everyone benefits, including the economy

Careful not to focus purely on the environmental benefits of taxing carbon and the transition to a ‘clean’ economy, Trudeau pointed out that there would be a host of economic benefits as well. He stated that this plan will encourage businesses to innovate in finding ways to reduce carbon emissions, and that it will eventually make Canadian business more competitive.

Not only this, but the PM pointed to new and exciting job prospects that will be created as a result of this economic shift, highlighting the increased investment in renewable energy, which was almost 50% higher than in fossil fuels in 2015.

“This framework will include not only the plan for pricing carbon pollution, but will also pave the way forward to better support innovation and jobs in the clean energy sector, manage the effects of climate change, and improve our capacity for adaptation and climate resilience,” Trudeau stated.

It is not the first time that we have seen Trudeau show clean support for the reduction of carbon emissions, as already twice this year he has met with U.S. President Obama to discuss action on climate change and to plan better ways to incorporate clean energy sources. But the message this time was stronger, it showed that he plans to take very real action to reduce carbon emissions within Canada, and that he is not scared to face climate change head on.

“There is no hiding from climate change,” he added. “It is real and it is everywhere. We cannot undo the last 10 years of inaction. What we can do is make a real and honest effort – today and everyday – to protect the health of our environment, and with it, the health of all Canadians.”