Canada's climate change money shouldn't go to developing countries, Sask. premier says

Premier Brad Wall has unveiled his plan for fighting climate change — and it includes "redeploying" $2.65 billion in federal funds earmarked for developing countries.

Brad Wall unveils alternative climate change plan to prime minister's carbon pricing scheme

Premier Brad Wall has been highly critical of the federal carbon pricing plan. (CBC News)

Premier Brad Wall has unveiled his plan for fighting climate change — and it includes "redeploying" $2.65 billion in federal funds earmarked for developing countries.

Saskatchewan's plan includes no carbon taxes and no cap-and-trade system for dealing with carbon emissions.

Wall outlined his proposals in a speech Tuesday at a Regina and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

As an alternative to carbon taxes, he wants Ottawa to take its $2.65-billion, five-year commitment for climate change measures in developing countries and use it instead for research and innovation in Canada.

The money could be used to develop technology such as carbon capture and storage and small nuclear reactors that could reduce emissions worldwide, he said.

Wall also spoke about his government's pledge for SaskPower to increase its renewable energy generation from 25 per cent today to 50 per cent by 2030.

"We need to focus on technological solutions," Wall said.

A prime example, he told the crowd in Regina, is SaskPower's $1.3-billion carbon capture and sequestration project at its Boundary Dam coal-fired power plant, which this year will remove 800,000 tonnes of carbon from the system.

"We have made this investment, the largest in Canada … and it's working," he said.

Other parts of Wall's plan released in a white paper include: 

  • Developing the next generation of carbon capture and storage technology.
  • Encouraging Ottawa to give Saskatchewan more credit for agricultural practices, such as zero till farming, that are "carbon sinks" and help fight climate change. 
  • Charging a levy on large emitters, with the money to be used for new technology and innovation to reduce greenhouse gases.
  • Calling on the federal government to double the money it spends on helping Canadians adapt to climate change, with remote northern communities an area of particular focus.

Wall's remarks came two weeks after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his carbon pricing plan, which Wall called "a betrayal" because the provinces weren't consulted.

Wall gave no indication Tuesday he has moderated his views.

He accused his opponents of employing "bromides and slogans" and wanting to "feel better" without actually doing anything to reduce carbon emissions.

The federal proposal would charge polluters $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide, starting in 2018, with the price increasing to $50 per tonne by 2022.
Wall said that would kill jobs in energy-intensive provinces like Saskatchewan.

He said jobs should not be sacrificed on an unproven carbon tax plan that lacks a detailed economic impact analysis.

Wall's plan won't battle emissions: economist

University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe compared the differences between Wall's climate change plan and B.C.'s carbon tax. He said what works with the B.C. plan is the fact that it has generated revenue for the province while also fighting emissions.

"A carbon tax is another way of raising revenue and the funds could be used to lower taxes. So B.C., for example, takes their carbon revenue and lowers corporate income taxes and lowers personal income taxes," he said. 

Tombe added while the carbon tax did have employment implications in some sectors, overall employment did not drop.

He criticized Wall's plan, saying it would be more damaging because money would be spent on technology and innovation subsidies. ​

"To the extent that his carbon tax is not revenue neutral. He's not taking the money and lowering other taxes. The way in which he is implementing it, relative to say B.C., may have worse affects on employment in Saskatchewan."

Economists would favour a carbon tax over a subsidy for research and innovation because the tax presents less risk, he added.