Climate plan won’t charge heavy emitters until 2021
Despite setting the price of excess emissions for Saskatchewan’s large industrial emitters at $20 a tonne in 2019, the provincial government says no money will be generated until 2021.That is because the province is allowing heavy emitters until that year to be compliant with emissions standards.The province’s climate-change strategy, Prairie Resilience, implemented sector-specific standards on facilities producing more than 25,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.Output-based performance standards were put in place for each of the more than 40 facilities that fall into that category, accounting for roughly 11 per cent of Saskatchewan’s total emissions in 2016.According to the province, the standards were “designed to be technically achievable,” and the facilities they apply to can choose to reduce their overall emissions, pay into a technology fund or use other compliance options, such as a cap-and-trade system where emitters can purchase credits gained for good performance from other companies to offset their own excess emissions.“Because the system is flexible by design, and avoids forcing regulated emitters to take specific compliance actions, projections cannot be made as to how much money will be in the technology fund,” said a statement from the province.Either way, companies will have until 2021 to decide which method they will use. The province expects the standards to lower the province’s CO2 emissions by 5.3-million tonnes by 2030 — a 10-percent overall reduction.Despite emitters being expected by the province to start reducing pollution levels now, Prairie Resilience won’t be fully operational until 2021, when the province will be expecting and enforcing full regulatory compliance.NDP Leader Ryan Meili says the Saskatchewan Party government never has taken emissions reductions seriously, and questions if there will be any reductions by 2021, saying it, “Undermines any confidence people might have that this government takes climate change seriously.”Once implemented, the provincial government predicts, 58 per cent of Saskatchewan’s emissions will be regulated under the heavy emitters section of Prairie Resilience.The province has argued its climate-change plan is enough to reduce emissions and a federally imposed carbon tax would hurt Saskatchewan’s GDP by nearly $2 billion each year. It is unclear how much it will cost industry to fulfil the regulations now in effect.“Due to the flexible nature of these regulations, it is difficult to predict an exact cost to regulated emitters,” said the province’s statement, adding it allows heavy emitters to implement the “lowest cost option” to reduce pollutants.“This method encourages implementation of innovative and cost-effective solutions, rather than prescribing particular actions or specific technologies that must be implemented,” read the statement.Given a federal election is expected this year and the Conservative Party of Canada is planning to scrap the Liberal government’s climate-change strategy if elected, Meili said allowing heavy emitters a few years to comply, “Suggests to me they are banking on a change in government and walking away from this commitment.”(This) suggests to me they are banking on a change in government and walking away from this commitment.
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