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Province asks Manitobans to weigh in on carbon pricing options

Published by CME Manitoba on March 04, 2017

This article appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press on  March 4, 2017

THE province is asking the public for input on Ottawa’s carbon pricing plan.

Manitoba announced Friday it is launching an online survey so Manitobans can have their say "on the carbon pricing plan being imposed by the federal government," Sustainable Development Minister Cathy Cox said in a statement Friday.

Last fall, Ottawa was criticized for the unilateral way it rolled out its plan.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in October that Ottawa planned to set a national floor price on carbon that all provinces would have to levy on emissions.

He gave provinces two years to adopt the carbon price plan or a cap-and-trade system that would meet Canada’s requirements under the Paris climate change accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

About 85 per cent of Canadians live in jurisdictions that have some kind of price system on greenhouse gases. British Columbia and Quebec run programs and at the time of Trudeau’s announcement both Ontario and Alberta announced plans to roll out programs of their own early this year.

At the time, the provincial government responded to Trudeau’s carbon pricing plan by saying it would develop its own after conducting public consultations.

Premier Brian Pallister also ruled out a cap-and-trade program but wasn’t definitive on a carbon tax.

The province moved on that promise in Friday’s announcement.

"The federal government is directing all provinces to bring in a carbon price beginning in 2018," Cox said.

"While Manitobans understand the importance of environmental protection, our government has an equal responsibility to ensure we stimulate investments in clean energy and green growth that will create sustainable jobs throughout our province," she said.

"We want Manitobans to tell us what impact this will have on their families and to tell us their ideas of other steps we could take to grow our economy while we protect our environment."

The province wants Manitoba’s plan for greenhouse gas emissions to focus on energy-saving technologies.

The online survey offers the public a platform for suggestions on initiatives that potential carbon pricing revenues could be directed toward. The province said these could include lowering income taxes, providing rebates for low-income households, investing in water projects to address the risks of increased flooding, or providing offsets for increased hydroelectricity rates.

The minister added she hopes climate change initiatives in Manitoba will pay off in new jobs and clean technology.

"A made-in-Manitoba plan, created with the input of Manitobans, will build upon our strengths and allow us to prosper while doing our part to fight climate change," Cox said.

The priorities for Manitoba’s climate plan will be to reduce carbon emissions causing climate change, adapt to climate change impacts and preserve wetlands and vulnerable ecosystems.

The climate change survey is available on the consultation website at www.manitoba.ca/climateandgreenplan.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

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