Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces the government's updated climate change plan in the Dominion Arboretum in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Five years after signing the Paris Climate Accord, Canada is still trying to meet its obligations. It’s all about the number — the world doesn’t want to hit: a 2 percent warming by 2030.

The Canadian government finally revealed its plan to tackle this and it’s simple: make polluting expensive by raising the carbon tax, and pushing carbon emissions down. But the plan is already getting push back from critics and businesses.


Ottawa has released an ambitious CAD $15 billion climate plan. The plan steps up Canada’s drive to reduce carbon emissions, and refocus the country on track to beat its commitments under the Paris Climate Accord.

“This is a good day for our planet, it’s a good day for Canadians,” said the Canadian Prime Minister during the announcement. “There is no vaccine against a polluted planet. It’s up to us to act because there is a real cost to pollution.”

The plan will mean a sharp rise in the federal carbon tax, a move that’s already getting some resistance.

“Starting in 2023 we will put even more money in the pockets of Canadians by increasing the price on pollution by CAD $15 a ton per year,” said Trudeau.

The carbon tax, right now, is set at CAD $30 per ton — under the Liberal’s new plan, it would go up to CAD $170 per ton by 2030. The tax was always designed to be revenue-neutral with Canadians receiving an annual rebate to offset higher costs for gasoline and home heating.

The rebates would be paid out in quarterly instalments starting in 2022, but Trudeau knows that may not be enough to win over opponents with three provinces already challenging the carbon tax before The Supreme Court.

“We know The Supreme Court will do their work but there is no question that the political disagreement between those who think we should make pollution free again and those of us who know that the only way towards a stronger economy is by fighting climate change and preparing for the innovations of the future are going to stay focussed on exactly that goal,” added the Prime Minister.

Ontario is one of the provinces looking to scrap the tax and its Premier made his feelings clear about Ottawa’s new planned increase.

“I just can’t understand … for the life of me … why anyone would want to put a burden on the backs of the hard-working people of this province,” said Premier Doug Ford. “This carbon tax is going to be the worst thing you could ever see.”

But that’s not how some environmentalists see it.

“I think it’s big and it’s bold and it’s Brave,” said Michael Bernstein, Executive Director of the group Clean Prosperity. “Carbon pricing is the most effective way to gradually move people away from fossil fuels.”

He says any other policy put in place to reduce emissions, is not going to have money to compensate households. So he believes this is actually the most affordable way to help reduce emissions.

The Liberals are also pledging more than CAD $15 billion in spending on climate initiatives. Money to retrofit buildings by making them more energy-efficient and to make electric and hybrid vehicles more affordable.

Welcoming the announcement — Robert Hornung, President and CEO of the newly formed Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA) — said the commitment allocates CAD $964 million over four years to support renewable power generation and grid modernization.

In all, the government says its plan will allow Canada to surpass its pledge under the Paris Accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030. It will also put Canada well on the way to achieving net-zero emissions by the middle of this century.

The government critics, though, still need convincing.

Editorial Team
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Canada’s plan to reach net-zero by 2050 with an initial CAD $15 billion investment

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