Fed­eral doc­u­ment out­lines Sask. con­cerns

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - D.C. FRASER dfraser@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/dcfraser

Heav­ily-redacted fed­eral doc­u­ments re­leased to the Leader-Post sum­ma­rizes that there is a broad con­sen­sus that car­bon pric­ing should be a cen­tral com­po­nent of any pol­icy ad­dress­ing cli­mate change.

But Saskatchewan’s fi­nance min­is­ter says the doc­u­ment sup­ports some of the con­cerns over car­bon pric­ing raised by the prov­ince. Dated May 18, 2016, one doc­u­ment ti­tled Car­bon Pric­ing in The­ory and in Prac­tice, pre­pared by the fed­eral Depart­ment of Fi­nance, ex­plores car­bon pric­ing to reg­u­la­tion poli­cies on cli­mate change, as well as a com­par­i­son of planned pro­vin­cial car­bon pric­ing ac­tions. Saskatchewan is strongly op­posed to car­bon pric­ing and has spo­ken out against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s plan to im­pose a tax.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Scott Moe says the fed­eral doc­u­ments sup­port some of the con­cerns raised by the prov­ince.

“These doc­u­ments, to me, ac­tu­ally fur­ther sup­port the con­cerns we have about the ef­fec­tive­ness of a car­bon tax when it comes to re­duc­ing emis­sions and the ef­fec­tive­ness of a car­bon tax when it comes to the im­pact on the econ­omy, and I don’t think we know that,” says Moe.

He points to one para­graph ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent car­bon pric­ing strate­gies that reads, “be­cause of the tax, a man­u­fac­tur­ing firm would pay higher price for en­ergy de­rived from burn­ing fos­sil fu­els. In turn, this firm would in­crease the price of its goods to re­flect higher in­put costs for en­ergy ob­tained from car­bon. The tax would cas­cade through­out the econ­omy and prices would in­crease most for goods that make in­ten­sive use of car­bon-based en­ergy. There would be a broad in­cen­tive to sub­sti­tute away from car­bon in the whole econ­omy.”

Moe says that Saskatchewan is a heavy ex­porter of goods and is com­pet­ing with other ju­ris­dic­tions for busi­nesses. He says doc­u­ments such as these, es­pe­cially when heav­ily-redacted, heighten peo­ple’s con­cerns “with re­spect to what im­pact (a car­bon tax) is go­ing to have on emis­sions.”

In a state­ment, the fed­eral Depart­ment of Fi­nance says the doc­u­ments were “to brief the fed­eral min­is­ter of fi­nance on the eco­nomic the­ory un­der­ly­ing car­bon pric­ing as well as po­ten­tial ap­proaches to car­bon pric­ing in the Cana­dian con­text.”

A work­ing group re­port ex­plor­ing car­bon pric­ing was com­pleted a few months af­ter the dates listed on the doc­u­ment. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment said the doc­u­ment was “not in­tended and were not used to in­form the work­ing group re­port on car­bon pric­ing mech­a­nisms. The work­ing group re­port was based on the collaborative ef­forts of fed­eral, pro­vin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial of­fi­cials.”

Scott Moe

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