A carbon pricing mechanism could impact Saskatchewan, but a public policy expert says the outcome is not likely a "job killer."
At the first ministers meeting in Vancouver on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the provincial premiers said they are working towards a national climate change plan that includes an agreement in principle of a carbon pricing mechanism.
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Jeremy Rayner, director of the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan, said there are many different ways of pricing carbon.
"All we have as an agreement on, in terms of carbon pricing, is more research needs to be done. The working group needs to be set up [and] various options will be presented," Rayner said. "Presumably there will be another… meeting where they will get down to the negotiations."
'I'm not concerned that it's going to be a job killer as it's sometimes been said.' - Jeremy Rayner, director of the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
Rayner said that carbon pricing allows for more choice than a regulatory approach, which would essentially shut down carbon emitting activities. It also makes it "increasingly painful" for people to engage in carbon intensive activities.
"Carbon pricing is one way to do that; [it's] one of the most effective ways to do that for sure," he said.
Taking a look at British Columbia
Rayner pointed to British Columbia as an example, explaining that they've had a carbon tax — a carbon pricing option — in place since 2008.
"They currently put a price of $30 a tonne on carbon, which of course is double what Prime Minister Trudeau was talking about with his $15 a tonne," Rayner said.
For the average person, that means about 6.6 cents per litre extra in gas at the pump and 5.7 cents per cubic-metre of natural gas for home heating. The tax is also revenue neutral. Rayner added that evidence has shown it reduced emissions and reduced the per capita use of fuel for vehicles.
If carbon tax or another form of carbon pricing were brought into Saskatchewan, Rayner said it's not likely it would impact the economy.
"It's the distributors, importers of gasoline and other oil related products who are taxed, and they just pass it on to the consumer. The natural gas the consumer [gets] is taxed directly," he said.
Rayner said another lesson from B.C. is that the tax actually returned more money to the middle and high-income earners, while low-income earners received less.
"I'm not concerned that it's going to be a job killer as it's sometimes been said, but we do need to think very carefully about its social justice implications."