Conservative environment plan would cost more and achieve less than Liberal government policies, report says

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Conservative environment plan would cost more and achieve less than Liberal government policies, report says


OTTAWA—The environment plan the Conservative party claims will give Canada its “best chance” of meeting the country’s climate targets will actually cost more and achieve less than the policies of the Liberal government, according to a new analysis.

The report released Thursday was conducted by economists from EnviroEconomics and Canadians for Clean Prosperity to assess the Conservatives’ environment plan that the party says will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower costs.

The report comes to the opposite conclusion.

It outlines how the Conservative measures for heavy emitters, green technology, home retrofits and more will not outweigh the impact of removing Liberal policies like the national minimum carbon price and clean fuel standards. The Conservative plan would increase Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 9.1 megatonnes in 2022, and make it harder to hit the country’s commitment for reductions under the Paris Agreement to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, the report says.

Environment Canada projections say the country will miss that target by 79 megatonnes under current and incoming Liberal government policies. But Thursday’s report says that, under the Conservative plan, that gap would grow to 109 megatonnes.

It would also cost the government and households $3.8 billion more than the current suite of government policies, with new regulations and subsidies that replace the federal carbon price and tax rebates in provinces where it was imposed, the report says. This would translate to increased annual costs of $295 per household in provinces with the federal carbon price, including Ontario, and $187 per household where the federal price does not apply.

“It’s kind of a unique plan, right? We have more emissions and it’s going to cost more than the current forecast,” said Dave Sawyer, an economist with EnviroEconomics and one of the authors of the report.

“Canada’s gap to its 2030 target gets larger, and it’s going to cost us more money because the programs are quite expensive,” he said.

After lampooning the Liberal government’s signature carbon price as an unnecessary tax grab for more than two years, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer released his own environmental plan last month. The party proposes to scrap the carbon price, as well as proposed regulations for cleaner fuel that Scheer has labelled a “secret fuel tax.”

In their place, the Conservatives propose a new regulatory regime to force businesses to fund unspecified amounts into green technology research if they emit more than 40,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas per year. The party would also spend $1.8 billion over two years on home retrofits, and $250 million on a fund for green tech innovation.

Removing the carbon price and fuel standards would increase emissions expected in 2022 by almost 21 megatonnes, according to the economists’ analysis, while the new Conservative measures would only reduce emissions by about 12 megatonnes — leaving a net increase of 9.1 megatonnes over the current forecast.

Sawyer said the increase could be larger, depending on how strict the Conservatives would make their regulatory system for heavy emitters. The analysis assumed they would maintain the severity of the current federal system for heavy polluters — called the Output Based Pricing System — because the Conservatives have not given any details of how much businesses that emit more than the cap would have to pay.

“That’s a very generous assumption, but we just don’t have the data to assess the program,” said Sawyer.

On the cost side, the report says the government would save about $850 million in 2022 by cancelling the carbon price and fuel standards. But the Conservative measures would add $4.67 billion in costs, most of it from the $1.8 billion in home retrofit subsidies that the report estimates would spur $2.1 billion in new household spending on energy efficiency upgrades. Overall, the report predicts the Conservative plan would add $3.8 billion in government costs and household spending.

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga





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