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N.B. legislature introduces new standing committee on climate change

Click to play video: 'N.B. legislature introduces new standing committee on climate change' N.B. legislature introduces new standing committee on climate change
WATCH: A new standing committee to help guide the province's climate policy has been created. Silas Brown reports – Dec 22, 2019

A new standing committee has been created by the New Brunswick legislature that will be responsible for government efforts on climate change and other environmental issues.

The standing committee on climate change and environmental stewardship was unanimously approved by MLAs on Thursday and will be responsible for overseeing the provincial climate action plan.

“The committee will give our climate change secretariat an opportunity to come before the legislature and report on how the progress with the climate change action plan is going,” said Minister of Environment and local government Jeff Carr.

READ MORE: New Brunswick government committee sets hearing dates on vaccination, industry taxation issues

The committee, which was a promise from the 2018 throne speech, will also be examining how money from the soon to be established climate change fund is spent.

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Now that the government has moved to create its own carbon pricing model, the funds raised will be reinvested in green initiatives and climate mitigation projects.

“I know our carbon tax comes into play on April 1, but looking at where we put the funding towards the right initiatives, that is not going to be just a token exercise, it’s going to be laying out some real plans,” said premier Blaine Higgs on Friday.

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Climate change protesters demonstrate in Amsterdam airport, dragged out by police – Dec 14, 2019

Along with the environment minister Jeff Carr, the ministers of energy Mike Holland and the minister of agriculture Ross Whetmore will sit on the committee, but in a legislature first, a Green MLA will be vice-chair.

Kent North MLA Kevin Arseneau says he’s happy with the move, but is worried the committee may not be entirely effective.

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“We’ve already had committees that haven’t brought us what they were supposed to so, i’m obviously going into this optimistically and hoping that this committee is different,” he said.

“For a long time we’ve always said, the Green Party, that we have to review the way that committees work.”

READ MORE: New Brunswick announces $2.5 million Environmental Trust Fund

The committee will also be tasked with examining proposed legislation and will have the ability to call upon experts to offer opinions.

And the committee will not just be held to issues around climate change. Carr said the issue of glyphosate spraying will be one of the first things the committee is tasked with in the new year.

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