In order to battle climate change, gas prices are going up.
That’s just one of the changes stemming from the Alberta government’s new carbon levy.
Finance minister Joe Ceci said the plan that’s at the heart of Budget 2016 is “a win for our environment. It’s a win for our energy industry and above all, it’s a win for Albertans.”
READ MORE: Highlights from Alberta Budget 2016
On January 1, 2017, gas prices will jump 4.5 cents per litre. Diesel will go up 5.4 cents a litre and natural gas will increase by $1.01 per gigajoule.
One year later, more increases. The levy will take in 6.7 cents per litre on gasoline, eight cents per litre on diesel and $1.51 per gigajoule for natural gas.
The levy is expected to bring in $6.8 billion over the next five years. Coupled with a different levy on industrial emissions, the province will take in $9.6 billion by 2021.
“The levy is something we believe will help Albertans make better decisions,” Ceci said.
He added the levy will “help bend the curve on use of carbon.”
All of that money will go into the Climate Leadership Plan which Ceci says is the most progressive in the country. It will be spent on a variety of as yet unspecified initiatives intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of the climate change cash will be returned to Albertans.
Small business will get a one per cent tax cut.
Low- and middle-income Albertans will get cheques that are expected to completely cover the costs of the levy to their households.
“We are rebating back to them to adjust their payment so they can do more in terms of reducing their carbon use,” Ceci said.
For example, a single person making less than $51,250 will be eligible for up to $200 per year.
A family with two children making less than $101,500 will be get up to $360 per year.
For low- and middle-income households, those rebates are expected to cover all added costs created by the new carbon levy.
The province estimates two-thirds of Albertans will qualify for the rebate.
READ MORE: Alberta budget 2016: Winners and losers
By 2021 – and after the rebates – the Climate Leadership Fund will collect $3.6 billion more than it gives back.
The province says that money will be well used. Ceci said it “will help Albertans in terms of burning fossil fuels. It will reduce emissions.”