EDMONTON — Groups are warning that Alberta’s new climate change strategy will hit people who live in rural areas harder than people in cities.
The plan includes a carbon tax that the NDP government estimates will cost an average family about $500 a year by 2018 and about $960 by 2030.
Paige MacPherson of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says many consumers will pay more to drive and to heat and power their homes.
There will also be added costs for groceries and other goods.
It’s estimated the carbon tax will cost Albertans about $3 billion per year.
Gasoline will go up five cents per litre starting in 2017, rising another two cents to hit seven cents a litre in 2018. That will cost a typical two-vehicle household an extra $365 per year.
Natural gas will jump by $1.68 a gigajoule by 2018, which will translate to an annual increase on your heating bill of at least $200 per year. However, the province said 60 per cent of Albertans will receive a partial or full rebate.
However, a climate change professor at the University of Lethbridge said he doesn’t expect a negative impact on lower-income families or students.
“We will see a real impact on the greenhouse gas emissions of rich folks,” Dr. James Byrne said.
“Almost no Albertans are going to change their lifestyle because of this tax; it’s really not that large of an amount of money. But, it is still a very significant step in the right direction.”
By 2017, the levy is expected to collect $3 billion of revenue per year, earmarked for investment in greener technologies. Byrne thinks it’s time the government harnesses the wind and solar potential in southern Alberta.
“That’s a heck of a lot of money to spend on renewable energy. So, I see a lot more windmills in southern Alberta…and that’s a good thing for everyone. It’s a good thing for the environment, good thing for energy.”
WATCH: Dr. James Byrne, a climate change professor at the University of Lethbridge, reacts to Alberta’s plan to tackle climate change, and what it means for the average Alberta family.
The changes will be felt more acutely outside of urban areas because there is no transit service and increased transportation costs will mean higher prices for consumers.
The federation bases its assumptions on a report it completed on the effects of British Columbia’s carbon tax.
The report, submitted to the B.C. government in 2012, determined that people in urban areas benefited by shifting their burden to people in rural areas and the suburbs.
It also found the tax put more pressure on the agriculture, manufacturing and resource sectors.
President of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, Al Kemmere, says people in rural areas care about the environment.
But he says the carbon tax could be a challenge for the farm economy.
With files from Global News