Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken a different tack to Canada’s environmental agenda, saying the Liberal Party’s plan to create a new carbon tax will not come without its own costs.
Trudeau’s Liberals have been pushing for carbon pricing for decades, and the carbon tax would be part of a broader $7.5 billion climate plan the Liberals say they will put in place by next summer.
“We will not be doing it on our own, but we will do it,” Trudeau said Tuesday in an interview with CBC News.
Trudeau said he’s not going to put a price on carbon emissions, and he has no intention of doing so.
But the Liberal government said its plan will provide incentives to businesses and companies that choose to invest in clean energy projects and to provinces that invest in infrastructure that can generate jobs.
It also will require provinces to set a minimum tax on carbon pollution, and it will give provinces more leeway to levy their own carbon taxes.
“The plan will be a mix of tax relief and incentives, with an emphasis on businesses, and we’re going to be looking at all those things,” Trudeau told the CBC’s Evan Solomon.
Trudeau added that Canada will also be looking for partnerships with other countries to help meet its climate targets, including in Europe and in Asia.
“I think that’s something that we will be looking very hard at,” he said.
Trudeau also said his government is looking at “a carbon tax” in its climate strategy.
The Liberal government unveiled its carbon tax in March, calling it a way to help the economy meet its carbon reduction targets, but it has faced criticism from environmental groups and business groups that it has not created a tax on emissions of greenhouse gases.
The plan would generate $2.6 billion over three years for infrastructure and energy projects, with the money set aside for energy and transportation projects.
Trudeau has said the tax would not come with a price tag.
“There will be no carbon tax,” Trudeau declared.
Trudeau told Solomon that the Liberal plan will include $5 billion in “carbon offsetting” programs that will help businesses create carbon-negative energy projects.
He also said the Liberal party will create a carbon levy fund to help provinces set their own prices for carbon pollution.
The Liberals’ plan has faced a backlash from environmental activists and some economists, who say it is unfair to the provinces that would be paying the cost of the new carbon levy.
“What the Liberals are proposing is to put money into a fund and expect it to be spent when they need it,” said Doug Porter, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business who has researched carbon pricing and carbon offsets.
“So, you are not going be able to say you will be able (to pay the tax) if you don’t use the money.”
A Liberal spokesman told Solomon Tuesday that the plan will create “green jobs” and will help the environment.
“This plan is a fair way of addressing the climate challenge,” Trudeau’s spokesman said in an email to CBC News, adding that the Liberals will make sure that the money is spent “efficiently and efficiently” so that “it is used for the most effective ways to reduce carbon pollution.”
The Liberal plan comes as the United States prepares to host the Paris climate conference later this month, and Trudeau is expected to announce a carbon tax.
Trudeau, who has faced calls to drop carbon pricing as a strategy to combat climate change, said Tuesday he has “not seen any evidence” to support his claim that carbon taxes will be ineffective in reducing emissions.
“Our plan will have a carbon price, so it’s not just an excuse to take it out on the Canadian people, but to do something about climate change,” Trudeau added.