New Brunswick proposes plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by industry
FREDERICTON -- New Brunswick is bringing forward its own plan it says will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial emitters by 10 per cent by 2030 -- although it has many similarities to a federal plan the province says it wants no part of.
Environment Minister Jeff Carr said Thursday the proposed output-based pricing plan is a "made-in-New-Brunswick" alternative to the federal backstop carbon-pricing system.
"A national approach does not work for our province because it fails to recognize the unique realities of New Brunswick when it comes to trade and our ability to compete with facilities in other jurisdictions," said Carr.
The federal system requires large industrial plants that exceed average emissions in their sectors to pay levies, while those that stay below that average can earn credits that can be sold to above-average emitters.
Carr says the federal regime puts his province at a competitive disadvantage and his government's plan is "fair, cost-effective, and flexible."
New Brunswick's proposed system would regulate 50 per cent of the province's greenhouse gas emissions, he said.
"We fully expect to be able to contribute our share towards meeting the national target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels by the year 2030," said Carr.
Similar to Ottawa's plan, the province will set a regulatory standard for large emitters that would see them pay if they are over and earn credits if they are under -- something it says will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 420,000 tonnes by 2030.
However, the New Brunswick plan adopts facility-specific performance standards for emissions instead of averaging entire sectors, although the thresholds for participation are the same as the federal plan.
The department said participation will be mandatory for eight large emitters because they produce 50,000 tonnes of emissions each year. They include the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, Brunswick Smelter and several paper mills.
Three other plants that emit anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 tonnes would have the ability to opt into the program.
"Those facilities would make the choice of whether or not they are better served to be paying the tax or whether or not they are better served by the output pricing system," said Jeff Hoyt, executive director of New Brunswick's climate secretariat.
Hoyt said the plan also deals with electrical generation and will develop standards that will see gradual emission reductions while reducing the impact to electrical ratepayers by a cumulative one per cent between 2019 and 2022, as opposed to six per cent under the federal plan.
Lois Corbett, of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, said the proposed plan isn't as stringent as the federal backstop.
"A made-in-New-Brunswick plan is sort of code for not quite as good as everywhere else," said Corbett. "The draft proposal meets that unfortunately low bar."
She said it would also reduce the expectation for NB Power to figure out and implement a plan to get off coal by 2030.
Corbett questioned the fairness of a plan she said appears favourable to large polluters.
"We should be using our regulatory system with quite a bit more aggression to send a signal," she said.
Meanwhile, Carr said the government is seeking public comment on the plan until July 12 and will submit a final proposal to the federal government by the end of July.
- By Keith Doucette in Halifax