P.E.I. environment minister pleased with new federal greenhouse gas emissions target

The new federal greenhouse gas emissions target shows the nation’s commitment toward creating a better climate for future generations, Environment Minister Steven Myers said.

Steven Myers says the new target will spur other provinces to meet P.E.I.'s commitment to climate action

P.E.I. Environment Minister Steven Myers says the province leads its counterparts when it comes to taking action to reduce emissions. (CBC)

The new federal greenhouse gas emissions target shows the nation's commitment toward creating a better climate for future generations, P.E.I. Environment Minister Steven Myers says.

On Monday, the federal government officially submitted its new plan to cut Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, to the UN. In April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government's plan to do so.

Myers said it's time the federal government laid out a new plan for increasing the target for lower greenhouse gas emissions.

"We have to start moving our feet. I mean, I've heard the federal government talk about this a lot since 2015, and I feel like this move is more of an action move. So now that we're showing specifically how we're going to do it, I feel like there will be action.

P.E.I. 'leads in climate action' 

The new national target to lower emissions will spur other provinces to catch up with Prince Edward Island's targets, Myers said.

"Our targets on P.E.I. are still more aggressive than the national targets, so we're glad to see that the other provinces will start following the action that we've already taken here on P.E.I.," he said.

"I think we're going to help the rest of the country here, too, because we plan to be leaders. And what I've told the federal ministers any time I met with them is because we're leaders we're a great test case for how the rest of the country can respond."

P.E.I.'s environment minister says the province will have more wind farms to power homes in future. (Dave Rae/CBC)

Myers said the province's 2030 goal is a transition to using clean energy in most homes, and on roads. 

"So instead of heating with furnace oil at home, we hope to have people switch to something cleaner, particularly, you know, electricity, if that's possible. And we're looking at fuel switching when it comes to vehicles. And that's why we started our EV credits. So you'll see a lot more electric vehicles on the road in the coming years."

The P.E.I. government will announce its official plan to reduce emissions later this month or early in August.

Opposition disagrees

Opposition environment critic Hannah Bell doesn't think P.E.I.'s commitment to reducing emissions has ever been good. 

"P.E.I.'s plan has never been an effective one, and we've known that for a couple of years. So it means that we're going to need to have a plan in place that is fair and effective and looks probably quite different from what we have right now. We're waiting on the minister to tell us what that's going to look like," she said.

"P.E.I. is one of a number of provinces that are being told now by the federal government that they're going to need to step up and get something more effective." 

Opposition environment critic Hannah Bell says the new federal plans will help push provinces to meet their goals. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

Bell said there have been good emission targets set in P.E.I., but the government has not laid out a feasible plan to reach them. She wants to see more action taken. 

"Stickers on cars about net zero aren't the same as actually seeing implemented plans," she said.

"It's up to the government here to actually put something in place, make it clear, make it fair, and then explain it to Islanders so they understand what their role is in us meeting those climate targets."

There isn't much means to tell where P.E.I. currently stands in meeting its emissions targets, Bell said. 

"We actually don't have a lot of solid data. It's one of the things that has been incredibly frustrating, not just for the Opposition but for islanders, she said.

"When you have a target, you also want to know where we are now, and what are we doing now that's having an effect."

Bell said the government's new plan to lower emissions by 40 to 45 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2030 will hold P.E.I. and other provinces accountable for their own commitments to climate action.

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With files from Sheehan Desjardins