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Carbon tax revenue to go to climate change fund, not rebates: N.B. minister

Click to play video: 'First meeting of newest N.B. legislative committee held Tuesday' First meeting of newest N.B. legislative committee held Tuesday
WATCH: The committee on climate change and environmental stewardship heard about where emissions reductions efforts stand in the New Brunswick. But as Silas Brown explains, central to the province’s reduction goal is the climate change fund. – Feb 4, 2020

During the inaugural meeting of the standing committee on climate change and environmental stewarship, MLAs got the chance to fire questions at the head of New Brunswick’s climate secretariat about what the province is doing to lower emissions.

But many questions centred around a tool that has yet to be used: the climate change fund.

READ MORE: Most Canadian households to get more in rebates than paid in carbon tax: PBO

Speaking during a break, Minister of Environment and Local Government Jeff Carr said revenues from the province’s carbon tax will flow into the fund and will not be given back to New Brunswickers, as rebates as was done under the federal backstop.

“That’s the plan for all of these funds that we would now have control of, is to put them into the climate change fund so there’s a transparent accountable process by which we can finance or fund climate change initiatives,” he said.

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“It can go to adaptation plans, flood mitigation projects, energy efficiency projects that we know people want more access to, it could go to subsidies for electric vehicles. I think when we get this fund more fully set up we will come up with the parameters around it.”

Click to play video: 'Manitoba carbon tax a maybe, Pallister says after meeting Trudeau in Winnipeg' Manitoba carbon tax a maybe, Pallister says after meeting Trudeau in Winnipeg
Manitoba carbon tax a maybe, Pallister says after meeting Trudeau in Winnipeg – Jan 20, 2020

The climate change fund is currently empty. It was created as part of the previous Liberal government’s carbon pricing plan that would have seen the provincial gas tax redirected towards climate projects. The federal government rejected that plan and has stood empty since.

Liberal MLA Andrew Harvey thinks using carbon tax revenue for mitigation and adaption projects is the right move, but says his party will have to ensure the money is being spent properly.

“Our job is to hold the government to account to make sure that the proceeds from the carbon pricing, consumer and industrial, are reinvested back with New Brunswickers in climate change initiatives such as energy efficiency, erosion control,” he said.

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“So we’re going to hold the government to account for that to make sure they spend the money in the climate change fund for climate change purposes and not put it into general revenue.”

READ MORE: How carbon pricing works across the country

Lois Corbett, the executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, says using revenues for climate projects has the makings of a good idea, but if it’s being offered in lieu of a rebate, average New Brunswickers need to benefit.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do to protect our homes and our communities and our roads and our sewers. So we take a little bit of that carbon tax, carbon pollution money and put it back into essential programming,” she said.

“It’s no good to take money away from people but not send it back into helping senior citizens in particular make their houses less drafty.”

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