WINNIPEG – The Manitoba government revealed more details Thursday of its plan to cut greenhouse-gas emissions and charge a new $25-per-tonne carbon tax.
Many of the finer points – such as specific targets for big industrial operations and what emission-cutting projects will be funded – are still to be worked out.
“It is a plan that is better for the economy and better for the environment,” Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires said.
The province had already announced it would impose a $25-per-tonne carbon tax as of Sept. 1. It will drive up the cost of gasoline, diesel, propane and natural gas.
The Progressive Conservative government had also already said large emitters will have to register their emissions and be part of a trade system similar to ones in Alberta and Ontario. Many trade-dependent industries, such as agriculture, will be exempt.
The government revealed Thursday that operations emitting 50,000 tonnes or more will pay the tax – or receive a credit – for every tonne above or below benchmarks that are to be set. Credits could be sold to other emitters.
Companies that emit between 10,000 and 50,000 tonnes will have the option of using that system so they can receive credits.
Squires announced a $40-million fund – consisting largely of money redirected from current environmental programs – that is to be available to pay for emission-reducing projects such as public transportation and restoring wetlands.
An advisory group, yet to be named, is to help determine priority projects, Squires said. She hinted potential projects might include reducing emissions at landfills and using electric buses for municipal transit.
“We’ll be working with Winnipeg Transit so that … they can reduce their carbon footprint and that they can transition to a low-carbon future with us.”
The carbon tax will add 5.3 cents to a litre of gas, but the price at the pumps will actually rise by about 5.6 cents because the federal GST will apply to the provincial tax.
The government has promised to cut income and sales taxes to compensate Manitobans for the extra cost of the carbon tax.
The budget earlier this week announced a rise in the basic personal exemption – the amount of income people can earn before they start paying taxes. The Tories have also promised to cut one point off the eight per cent provincial sales tax before the 2020 election.