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Conservatives reveal climate plan with a carbon tax ‘personal savings account’

Click to play video: 'Conservatives’ climate plan draws parallels to Liberals’ policy' Conservatives’ climate plan draws parallels to Liberals’ policy
WATCH: Conservatives’ climate plan draws parallels to Liberals’ policy – Apr 15, 2021

The federal Conservatives revealed their climate plan on Thursday and proposing a $20-per-tonne carbon price — lower than the Liberals’.

The plan is a major shift in policy, as the party has previously threatened to scrap the program introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2018.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole announced the climate policy Thursday morning, saying his party would scrap Trudeau’s carbon price system and replace it with a “pricing mechanism for consumers.”

Click to play video: 'O’Toole unveils Conservatives’ climate change plan, carbon pricing strategy' O’Toole unveils Conservatives’ climate change plan, carbon pricing strategy
O’Toole unveils Conservatives’ climate change plan, carbon pricing strategy – Apr 15, 2021

Read more: How carbon pricing works across the country

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“The most efficient way to reduce our emissions is to use a pricing mechanism,” O’Toole said at the media conference. “Canada’s Conservatives will scrap the federal carbon tax back stop and work with the provinces to implement an innovative and national personal low carbon savings account.”

The 15-page document, obtained by The Canadian Press, proposed the carbon price at $20 per tonne, rising no higher than $50 per tonne.

The Tories would work with provinces to create a “personal low carbon savings account.” This means Canadians would pay into their account each time they buy hydrocarbon-based fuel, and then use that money to pay for products to help them live a “greener life,” like a bike, bus pass or an electric vehicle.

“This will maintain a consumer price on carbon but without one penny going to the government. Instead, every time a Canadian buys hydrocarbon-based fuel they will pay into their low carbon savings account that they will manage and use towards purchases and help them lower their carbon footprint,” he said.

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The plan said the accounts would be managed by companies similar to how a debit-card system works.

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“Even at this lower carbon price, we will ensure that this does not place an excessive burden on low-income Canadians and will protect farmers by ensuring that they have affordable options,” the plan reads.

The federal Liberals’ carbon tax is currently at $40 per tonne, rising to $50 in 2022, and will keep rising until it hits $170 by 2030. This only applies in provinces that have not set up their own carbon pricing system. Currently, all provinces and territories have their own carbon pricing system, except for Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, Nunavut and Yukon.

Under this policy, 90 per cent of the revenue is returned to Canadians through a rebate. The remaining 10 per cent is handed out to small and medium-sized businesses, schools, hospitals and organizations that can’t pass on their costs from the carbon tax directly to consumers.

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The Tories also said they want to introduce a zero-emissions vehicle mandate based on British Columbia’s policy, requiring 30 per cent of light-duty vehicles sold to be zero emissions by 2030.

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Other plans include proposing lower North America-wide industrial emissions standards to the Biden administration in the U.S., improving fuel regulations to make burning gasoline cleaner and investing $3 billion over 10 years in “natural climate solutions” that focus on forests, farming and wetlands.

Tories have been opposed to carbon tax

The Tories have previously been very opposed to the national carbon price.

Last month, after years of disputes between some provinces and the federal government over carbon pricing, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the federal government has the constitutional right to impose a carbon price on the provinces.

After the decision, O’Toole said his party, should it form government, plans to repeal the carbon pricing plan.

Read more: The carbon tax is going up. Here’s how much more you could pay at the pumps

“Canada’s Conservatives will repeal Justin Trudeau’s Carbon Tax,” O’Toole said in a statement.

“The Supreme Court highlighted the risk of carbon leakage between provinces. The same risk of leakage of jobs and investment exists between Canada and the United States.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

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