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Gas prices stable in Nova Scotia as federal plan kicks off in New Brunswick

Click to play video: 'How the Nova Scotia cap and trade program works' How the Nova Scotia cap and trade program works
WATCH: Nova Scotians are unlikely to have noticed a jump in gas prices on Monday when the federal carbon tax came into effect – Apr 1, 2019

As gas prices jumped by more than five cents per litre in New Brunswick on Monday, prices in Nova Scotia remained relatively stable.

That’s because the province has implemented its own carbon pricing regime — a cap-and-trade program that has been active since the beginning of the year.

Under Nova Scotia’s plan, greenhouse gas emitters who exceed the annual allowance set by the province must purchase more from those whose emissions fall beneath the annual allowance.

Gradually, the government will reduce the total allowance for the province, clamping down on heavy emitters’ ability to trade and forcing everyone to come up with innovative ways to keep their operations green.

It’s not expected to take a dramatic toll on consumer wallets, unlike the new carbon pricing rules in New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan — provinces that didn’t develop their own carbon pricing mechanisms.

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As of today, those provinces fall under the federal carbon pricing umbrella, which has a starting fee of $20 per tonne of emissions.

READ MORE: Federal carbon tax could push N.B. drivers across border in search of cheaper gas: expert

“We’re giving fuel suppliers 80 per cent of what they need for free so there’s no cost associated with that that they have to pass onto the consumer,” said Nova Scotia climate change director Jason Hollett of his own province’s solution.

“It’s only that 20 per cent that they have to purchase that there’s a cost associated with it, and that’s why you see it as about one cent per litre here in Nova Scotia as opposed to four to five cents in other jurisdictions.”

According to Dalhousie University engineering professor Larry Hughes, energy cost changes arising from Nova Scotia’s cap-and-trade program could cost the average household around $60 per year in 2019, rising to around $85 in 2022.

In New Brunswick, under the federal plan, it could cost anywhere from $150 to $600 per year, depending on whether a home is heated with electricity or oil, he told Global News.

“I think we can say we dodged one because of the way the (Nova Scotia) was able to set up the cap-and-trade, and for some reason, the federal government accepted it, just as they accepted P.E.I.’s but certainly didn’t accept New Brunswick’s original program, which was very similar to P.E.I.’s,” said Hughes.

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In about a year’s time, revenues from Nova Scotia’s plan will start rolling into a provincial green fund, whose coin will be used to develop climate resilience programs and support any consumers who are struggling with the changing cost of energy.

WATCH: Andrew Scheer speaks out about federal carbon tax in New Brunswick

Click to play video: 'Andrew Scheer speaks out about federal carbon tax in New Brunswick' Andrew Scheer speaks out about federal carbon tax in New Brunswick
Andrew Scheer speaks out about federal carbon tax in New Brunswick – Apr 1, 2019

And as all eyes are on the price of gas at the pumps, the Sierra Club’s Gretchen Fitzgerald encouraged Nova Scotians to consider the bigger picture.

“That’s the real crisis here is the climate crisis and protecting safe, livable communities and a safe, livable planet for the future,” she said.

“What the carbon tax does is says pay a little bit now, shift our behaviours and our buying habits and the fuels we rely on now, to save those impacts and save money later.”

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