Is Singh’s Climate Plan on the Level?

May 31st, 2019

Regina–Lewvan MP Erin Weir is concerned that the federal NDP climate plan unveiled today could unintentionally increase global emissions and eliminate local jobs by prompting carbon-intensive industry, such as Regina’s steel mill and oil refinery, to relocate to jurisdictions with weaker environmental standards.

In opposing the renegotiated NAFTA in Parliament on Wednesday, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh stated: “If Canadian workers have to work in a context, rightly so, where we protect the environment, but compete with a jurisdiction where those protections are not in place, it creates an unlevel playing field.”

Yet two days later, he is proposing to create an unlevel playing field by eliminating output-based rebates for carbon-intensive, trade-exposed industries that stay in Canada.

“Unfortunately, Canada’s carbon price could prompt industry to move to countries that do not price emissions,” noted Weir.

The federal government has sought to level the playing field with output-based rebates for large industrial emitters. These companies still have an incentive to reduce emissions to lower their carbon tax bill, while getting money back for maintaining production and employment in Canada.

Today’s federal NDP plan (page 9) would scrap those rebates: “We will continue carbon pricing . . . while making it fairer and rolling back the breaks the Liberals have given to big polluters.”

An alternative to output-based rebates, endorsed by some federal NDP leadership candidates, would be extending Canada’s carbon price to the carbon content of imports and rebating it on our exports. But Singh’s plan does not include carbon border adjustments or any other mechanism to level the playing field between Canada and countries where emissions are free.

“As a lifelong New Democrat, I would like to see the federal NDP advance a credible climate plan that protects industrial workers. It is one thing for Conservatives, who oppose carbon pricing, to attack rebates for industry,” said Weir. “But those of us who support pricing to reduce emissions must advocate policies to ensure it reduces global emissions, rather than pushing industry and jobs out of Canada.”