P.E.I. Environment Minister Robert Mitchell says he's not committing to establishing a carbon tax for the Island as part of a cross-Canada emission-reduction plan.

A carbon tax is a tax paid on coal and fossil fuels designed to slow greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging industry and consumers to switch to renewable energy sources.

'We're small. We don't have the major emitters that other provinces do.' — Robert Mitchell, P.E.I. Environment Minister

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is asking all provinces to put a price on carbon but has not set a deadline.  

"We're very, very preliminary in any discussions here," said Mitchell. 

Mitchell had his first discussion with the other environment ministers about a regional carbon tax at meetings in Ottawa at the end of January.

Mitchell said five provinces, representing 80 per cent of Canada's population, will have emissions plans in place by next year. 

Robert Mitchell, P.E.I. Communities, Land and Environment minister

P.E.I. Environment Minister Robert Mitchell says P.E.I. must come up with ways to reduce coastal erosion but a carbon tax is not imminent. (Liberal Party of P.E.I.)

"It's real, it's things that we have to look at and come up with adaptation, mitigation and go-forward plans."

Alberta announced a carbon tax of $20/ton, which the province estimates will cost the average household an extra $470 a year, unless they cut back. B.C. gradually introduced a tax of $30/ton from 2008 to 2012. 

It may make sense, Mitchell said, "to go regionally with something" but he'd have to talk to his regional counterparts on that. 

"We're small. We don't have the major emitters that other provinces do," Mitchell said.

He added that P.E.I. has been a leader in wind energy in Canada, and already has a negligible carbon footprint. 

"Having said that, we do have our climate change results that are showing up ... in the coastal erosion area and sea level rise that we certainly have to be very aware of our part to play."

McKenna said last week that a pan-Canadian climate strategy is going to take time and next month's meeting among Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers is designed to only lay the foundation for that plan.

With files from Laura Chapin