Despite the backlash received from opposition parties over carbon pricing, according to a recent study, nearly two thirds of Canadians want the Liberal government to continue with their climate regulations.
Last week, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna met with European Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete. Together they reaffirmed their commitment to meeting the targets set by the Paris Climate agreement. This comes amid promises by U.S. President Donald Trump to reverse most of former President Barack Obama’s climate change regulations.
The agreement, which was signed by 195 countries, has a primary goal of limiting the increase in global average temperature to no more than 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. Experts believe an increase in global temperature to 2 C above pre-industrial levels would have catastrophic environmental consequences.
A poll conducted by Nanos Research, on behalf of The Globe and Mail, found that 48 per cent of Canadians “support” the Government of Canada’s plan to institute new climate change regulations, even if they are not congruent with the direction taken by the U.S. Meanwhile, 17 per cent “somewhat support” the government’s efforts, and a total of 33 per cent either “oppose” (22 per cent) or “somewhat oppose” (11 per cent).
Support was highest in British Columbia with 74.3 per cent, followed by Quebec with 73.2 per cent. Support was lowest in the Prairies with 51.5 per cent and Ontario with 60.7 per cent.
The Liberals’ carbon pricing plan has been criticized by conservative opponents and business leaders as “limiting” Canada’s potential to compete in global trade with the U.S., which is heading in the opposite direction.
According to European Climate Commissioner Canete, with the United States’ likely withdrawal from their previous commitments, countries like Canada will have to step into the leading role and ensure other states meet their climate change targets .
“Climate-change policy requires locomotives — big locomotives, powerful locomotives, locomotives that build trust among the rest of the parties,” said Canete. “There cannot be a vacuum for leadership and that’s our main concern. That’s why we come to Canada and will say to other friends, ‘Let’s work together because we have to be the locomotives in the fight against global warming.”
“We worked very hard to get the Paris agreement,” said McKenna after the meeting. “Now the rubber hits the road and each country has to work hard to meet their targets.”
While provinces are each introducing their own carbon pricing plans, the Liberals are expected to introduce a larger nation-wide plan later this year. The tax will price carbon at $10 per tonne next year, up to $50 per tonne in 2022. The plan will cover all provinces that have not yet introduced their own plan.
The government’s plan has also been criticized for not being “revenue-neutral,” such as the plan in place in British Columbia. Such a plan would see the government gain no profit from taxing carbon, as all revenue is matched by reduced taxes in other areas.