Nova Scotia seeking exemption from federal carbon tax, says it is doing enough

·2 min read

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s proposed climate plan to avoid the federal carbon tax is “shocking” in its lack of substance, a Halifax environmental advocacy group said Friday.

Kelsey Lane, a senior climate policy coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, reacted to Premier Tim Houston's announcement earlier in the day that his government sought to be exempt from the federal carbon tax.

Houston said Nova Scotia’s existing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions exceed Canada’s targets.

Lane, however, said that what the province put forward Friday is not much of a plan at all.

“We’re astonished at the lack of substance in the premier’s proposal,” Lane said.

The new federal carbon tax will increase the price of carbon by $15 per tonne, and then rise again every year until it reaches $170 per tonne in 2030.

Much of the plan, which Houston’s government submitted to Ottawa Thursday, lists existing environmental goals that were passed in provincial legislation last year. These include phasing out coal-fired electricity generation by 2030, pledging to have 80 per cent of the province's energy supplied by renewable sources by 2030 and to have zero-emission vehicles comprise 30 per cent of vehicle sales also by that year.

Lane said she had hoped the province would have implemented a plan for its own carbon pricing and said Nova Scotia needs to lay out details for how it will reach these stated emission reduction targets.

“There’s no clear accountability mechanisms for how we’re going to achieve that,” she said of the province’s targets, adding, “we could have still gone further” toward reducing emissions.

Houston said he's hopeful federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault will consider the plan "with an open mind."

The premier said if the province doesn’t meet its emission reduction targets, then the province will welcome the federal carbon tax.

“I’m not saying no to a carbon tax, I actually think carbon tax is an appropriate tool at the right time and the right place,” Houston said.

“But in Nova Scotia, it’s not necessary,” he added.

The premier said he hopes to hear back from Ottawa soon on whether his government's proposal is accepted.

The province currently operates its own cap-and-trade program for large industrial emitters that has been in place since 2019. It expires at the end of the year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 19, 2022.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Lyndsay Armstrong, The Canadian Press