Simon Little and Shelby Thom
It’s not a “climate deal,” in its own right, but the Prime Minister and Premiers have agreed on a path to a climate change strategy.
In a deal PM Justin Trudeau has dubbed the “Vancouver Declaration,” federal and provincial negotiators have agreed to a set of core terms with plans to flesh out a “Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change,” that will meet or exceed the country’s international emissions targets.
He says a transition to a low-carbon economy will reduce emissions, generate good paying and long-term jobs and is necessary for prosperity, health and security.
“We have challenges ahead of us but one cannot understate the importance and significance of all 14 of us coming together to agree that we will address the great challenge of our time.”
Prime Minister Trudeau says the framework deal, inspired by the Paris accord, will look into four core areas.
“First ministers have directed that reports be developed by the fall of this year to identify options for additional action in four areas. Clean technology innovation and jobs, carbon pricing mechchanisms, specific mitigation oportunities, and adaptation on climate resilience.”
Trudeau says they will also work to ratify and implement the Paris accord itself.
The leaders have agreed to fast track existing infrastructure investments, along with new funding for green infrastructure and public transit.
Trudeau also says they will double clean energy investments over the next five years.
— Janet Brown (@JanetBrown980) March 3, 2016
What wasn’t agreed to today was a national carbon price, or a specific strategy on carbon pricing.
However, Trudeau says the Premiers have agreed in principle that carbon pricing will will be a part of any final deal.
“The transition to a low carbon economy will happen by a broad suite of measures which will include a price on carbon, that is something we have all agreed to.”
However, Trudeau hinted that how that carbon pricing is implemented will be on a case by case basis, with an eye to specific regional circumstances.
Ontario and Quebec currently have cap and trade systems in place, while B.C. has a carbon tax as will Alberta in 2017.
It’s unclear yet how any carbon pricing scheme will include these existing mechanisms, but Trudeau says working groups will now dig into how to address specific regional and provincial conditions.
The plan calls for the parties to meet again in the fall and finalize the framework.
First Nations support
At least one BC First Nations leader is voicing support of a national carbon pricing scheme, in the wake of today’s announcement.
Speaking at a climate demonstration outside of Canada Place, Vice President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Bob Chamberlain, says a national carbon price would have to benefit all Canadians.
“There is going to have to be a way that there is going to be substantial benefits derived from it. Those benefits must be reinvested into good jobs from British Columbians and Canadians, and for promoting and developing the green economy.”
However Chamberlain adds “a lot of First Nations leadership” were excluded from the climate summit.
BC’s Premier stuck to her guns this week at the climate talks, maintaining that her top priority is to secure federal cash to expand the hydro grid between B.C. and Alberta.
Premier Christy Clark says selling more hydro to Alberta will help our neighbors reduce their reliance on coal, therefore decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
But critics charge more may be at play. B.C. green party MLA Andrew Weaver suggests the Premier is also trying to find a customer for Site C dam power.
“It is very odd that she is now trying to find a market for it because the LNG prosperity that we were all supposed to be part of is not going to happen, as I’ve been saying for three years, is that there is simply no need for the electricity for liquefaction so now she’s desperate.”
In a proposal to the feds, the province says it would also support the development of wind generation in Alberta.