New, lower emissions target set to become law on P.E.I.
Now the question is: How can the target be achieved?
A private members bill introduced by Green MLA Lynne Lund passed third reading in the P.E.I. legislature Thursday.
The bill will amend the province's Climate Leadership Act, replacing the province's current emissions target with a new, more ambitious one.
Once the bill receives royal assent, that target for the year 2030 will drop from 1.4 megatonnes to 1.2 megatonnes.
That means the province needs to eliminate another 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions — roughly the equivalent to the annual emissions from 40,000 gas-powered passenger vehicles.
To put it another way, that's twice the emissions the province says it has eliminated so far encouraging Islanders to switch from home heating oil to electric heat pumps.
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, P.E.I. was responsible for 1.8 megatonnes of emissions in 2017.
Special committee on climate change
The bill itself doesn't spell out how the province can further reduce emissions. That task will go to a new special legislative committee on climate change.
A motion to create the committee was endorsed by all three parties in the legislature and also passed Thursday.
Lund also sponsored the motion.
"We're going to be able to sit down, go through carbon abatement costs, find out what our various options are to reduce our emissions and meet our targets ," Lund said.
Concern over costs
During debate on the bill, the province's Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change Brad Trivers expressed concern about the cost to meet the lower target.
"We owe it to Islanders to have that really detailed discussion about what it means when we're setting targets like that and to do that you have to understand the costs involved," he said.
Trivers initially said he likely wouldn't support the bill, but eventually voted in favour.
According to the motion, each party leader will nominate two members to the special committee, which would eventually make recommendations to the legislature as to how P.E.I. should reduce its emissions.
Another motion introduced by the Greens, which passed Thursday, calls for the creation of a special committee on poverty.
One of the tasks to be assigned to that committee is to develop a fully-costed plan for the creation of a basic income pilot program for P.E.I.