OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada plans to steadily ramp up its price on carbon as part of a program to fight climate change, the government said on Friday, prompting praise from green groups often critical of Ottawa’s record.
Canada, which has missed every one of its emissions targets, is relying heavily on the measure to help meet 2030 commitments. Starting in 2023, the price will go up by C$15 ($11.70) per tonne a year from the current C$30 until it hits C$170 in 2030.
“The cleaner your economy, the faster and stronger it will grow,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters. The majority of the proceeds are returned directly to individuals and families through rebates.
Canada, a vast cold country that is also a major crude exporter, has struggled to control emissions of greenhouse gases that are widely blamed for global warming.
Trudeau reiterated that the measures would help Canada meet its Paris climate accord target of a 30% cut in 2005 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
The premier of Ontario, the most populous of the 10 provinces, called the announcement a “green scam” that would cripple an economy struggling to cope with the coronavirus.
“This carbon tax is going to be the worst thing you could ever see,” Doug Ford told reporters.
“You don’t have to protect the environment on the backs of the hardworking people of this province ... at a time when people are barely holding on by their fingernails.”
Canada’s Supreme Court is considering an appeal by Ontario against the carbon tax.
The proposed hike is also likely to be unpopular in the energy-producing provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, which have already been hit by low prices.
The Liberals won no seats in either province in an election last year and even if they retain power in a vote expected next year, their chances of staying in government until 2030 are remote, leaving the commitment in doubt.
Environmental groups were generally positive. Keith Stewart, a campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, hailed what he said was “a serious and well-thought out plan”.
Annamie Paul, head of the Green Party, said Trudeau was not being nearly ambitious enough.
“Canada has decided to continue to double down on a target they know is completely out of date and wholly inadequate,” she said.
Canada’s rate of C$30 a tonne is less than that charged by other nations such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, and France.
Additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa and Moira Warburton in Toronto;Editing by Matthew Lewis and Sonya Hepinstall
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