Province names advisory council on climate plan

The Progressive Conservative government named an advisory board to help with its made-in-Manitoba climate change plan. The group will look at programming to help the province reduce its carbon emissions.

Carbon tax on fuel still months from hitting pumps

Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires with the newly formed Climate Advisory Council (Gary Solilak CBC)

A group from academics, business, sustainable development and conservation will help the Progressive Conservative government implement its made-in-Manitoba climate change plan.

The announcement comes eight months after the PCs announced a plan to introduce a tax of $25 per tonne on carbon emissions. 

The group will be chaired by Colleen Sklar, who is the executive director of the Partnership of the Manitoba Capital Region and also includes David McLaughlin, who was the lead architect of the Tories' green plan.

Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires says the advisory council will look at initiatives such as a carbon savings account and other programs.

"I will be looking for advice on carbon emission reduction targets. That's something that this group will be taking a look at and how we can ensure that our investments are producing the best return on investment as it relates to carbon emission reduction," Squires said at a photo-op at the Manitoba Legislature on Tuesday.

The Manitoba government has signed Ottawa's climate change plan but its pledge for a $25-carbon tax will not meet federal guidelines of $50 per tonne after two years.

 The federal government had set a "backstop" of $10 per tonne per year, rising to $50 per tonne in five years.

The decision to sign on to the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change triggers approximately $67 million in federal funding for the province from Ottawa's Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund.

Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires says her government's research shows it will get a tonne of carbon emission reduction from the rise in fuel prices. (Gary Solilak CBC)

Despite introducing legislation for its climate change plan (the bill's passage has been delayed until the fall session) the PC government has not yet announced firm commitments to emission reduction programs, though Squires says there are plans to support ideas such as the electrification of some of Winnipeg Transit's buses.

Political wrangling between the Opposition NDP and the government has forced back debate and passage of the Tories' legislation, meaning a five-cent increase in fuel at the pumps won't likely happen until the end of 2018.

The PC government has been criticized for a lack of specific programming and for promising its carbon emission plan will be revenue-neutral.

Squires says her government is committed to introducing a series of initiatives and monitoring emissions.

"We've got a very nimble advisory council that will be providing advice every step of the way. We will be doing annual reports, which means an annual review of how we are progressing. And then the five-year report on emission reductions," Squires said.

Expert Advisory Council for Climate and Green Plan

  • Colleen Sklar, Lockport – chair
  • Andrew MacSkimming, Winnipeg – vice-chair
  • Dennis Anderson, Gimli   
  • Jim Irwin, Lake Audy
  • Ian Gillies, Winnipeg
  • Karla Guyn, Lockport
  • Dimple Roy, Winnipeg
  • Laurie Streich, Winnipeg
  • David McLaughlin will serve as technical advisor to the Expert Advisory Council