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UPDATE: No carbon tax in P.E.I. government's climate-change plan

Environment Minister Richard Brown, left, waits with Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee and Transportation Minister Paula Biggar during a news conference at Holland College Friday announcing details of P.E.I,’s climate change action plan.
Environment Minister Richard Brown, left, waits with Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee and Transportation Minister Paula Biggar during a news conference at Holland College Friday announcing details of P.E.I,’s climate change action plan. - Ryan Ross

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The P.E.I. government released its climate change plan Friday and it doesn’t include a carbon tax.

Environment Minister Richard Brown, who presented the plan, said it wasn’t a way for the provincial government to avoid imposing a carbon tax by relying on the federal government to do it for them.

“We’re in negotiations and we’re in discussions with Ottawa. We think we have a plan that will meet out targets with incentives,” he said.

The five-year plan involves reducing P.E.I.’s greenhouse gases by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The federal government has told the provinces to come up with their own carbon reduction plans or face having a carbon tax imposed on them.

With the plan announced today, the Liberals are using incentives and other conservation measures as a way to try to avoid a carbon tax.

Brown said carbon pricing is in the report with a reduction in the cost of electricity and moving people away from using oil.

“We save a ton of carbon on that,” he said.

The plan lists 32 actions the government will take to fight and deal with climate change.

Some involve reducing greenhouse gas emissions through measures like creating a province-wide electric vehicle charging network and installing 20 biomasss heating systems in public buildings.

The plan includes several measures to help adapt to climate change, including identifying vulnerable public infrastructure along the coast.

It also includes incentives for people to switch to lower-carbon energy systems.

Brown said the plan’s objective is to reduce carbon.

“We’re reducing carbon with our plan and we will meet our targets with the plan that we put forward,” he said.

P.E.I. has already taken a lot of steps to reduce carbon emissions since 2005, Brown said.

“We believe in incentives.”

Brown said the government will roll out its energy efficiency plan over the next few weeks.

“I think Islanders will be extremely impressed by it,” he said.

Once the province sends the plan off to Ottawa, the federal government will review it with a timeline of November or December to decide if it is acceptable, Brown said.

“We believe it is.”

Green leader Peter Bevan-Baker said he was disappointed, but not surprised to see a carbon tax wasn’t included in the plan.

“I think given that we are clearly in pre-election mode here nobody wants to talk about taxes or raising taxes before an election so I think it suits this government’s purposes well not to actually include any details in the climate action plan they released today,” he said.

After Brown tabled the plan in the legislature, Opposition environment critic Brad Trivers said there has been a lot of talk and meetings about climate change plans, but not a lot of action over the years.

“It’s great to see we’re going to have the rubber meet the road,” he said.

Trivers said there are still not a lot of details about what action is going to be taken.

“It’s a pretty fancy document with not a lot of meat to it.”

Twitter.com/ryanrross

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