Budget doesn't commit to carbon pricing starting in 2017-18
Finance Minister Cathy Rogers says the federally required carbon plan will start 'at a later date'
Finance Minister Cathy Rogers would not commit to bringing in carbon pricing on emissions in the 2017–18 fiscal year, contrary to indications from Premier Brian Gallant late last year.
The federal government is giving provincial governments until 2018 to establish a carbon-pricing regimen as a way to encourage industries and businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Trudeau government has said it will impose carbon pricing in any jurisdiction that doesn't develop its own standards.
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While the Gallant government remains committed to establishing carbon pricing, it made no commitment to do so in the 2017–18 fiscal year in the provincial budget delivered on Tuesday.
When asked by reporters, Rogers would not say whether carbon pricing will be implemented before or after March 31, 2018, which is the last day of the 2017–18 fiscal year.
"We're working with the partners so that we can find, indeed, a truly made–in–New Brunswick solution as soon as possible," said Rogers.
In a year–end interview with CBC News, Gallant indicated there would be some form of carbon pricing in place in New Brunswick on Jan. 1, 2018, although he wouldn't say whether the precise form of carbon pricing would be in the budget.
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"I don't want to commit to timing at this point," Gallant said in December. "But I will say 2017 will obviously be a big year for us to discuss with New Brunswickers and develop what we will think will be the best made–in–New Brunswick solution to a price on carbon."
"I think the prime minister was vague enough that the end of 2018 is probably going to meet his deadline, so we'll see it in the next budget," Coon said.
What surprised Coon was the apparent lack of funding to implement the government's promised transition to a low-carbon economy.
"[In the budget] $2 million has been cut from the environment budget, which is worrisome," Coon said in a statement.
"Within the department, the Climate Change Secretariat budget has hardly moved. Given the leadership role it needs to play in the coming year, my concerns remain."
"So I don't know what's going on. It makes no sense, particularly in the wake of the ice storm New Brunswickers just suffered through."
In its climate change action plan announced in December, the Gallant government set a target of reducing carbon emissions to 35 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. A committee had recommended the government set its target at 40 per cent.
- In an earlier version of this story, Green Party Leader David Coon said the Climate Change Secretariat's budget had been cut by $2 million. In fact, the Department of Environment and Local Government's budget was cut by $2 million.Feb 08, 2017 9:22 AM AT