Saskatchewan goes to court to fight Canada carbon tax

Saskatchewan produces a large amount of Canada’s oil and gas. (AFP pic)

OTTAWA: Oil-rich Saskatchewan on Wednesday launched a constitutional challenge of Canada’s plan to impose a carbon tax on the province if it fails to introduce its own measures to slash carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The case asks the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to rule on what it says is federal over-reach and meddling in its affairs.

“We do not believe the federal government has the constitutional right to impose (a national) carbon tax on Saskatchewan against the wishes of the government and people of Saskatchewan,” Premier Scott Moe said.

“We have a made-in-Saskatchewan plan to reduce emissions and fight climate change, and that plan does not include a job-killing carbon tax on Saskatchewan families.”

Currently four provinces – Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec – have carbon pricing such as through a tax on emissions or cap-and-trade schemes.

Those four provinces represent more than 80% of the population in the world’s seventh-largest oil producer. Almost all of the other provinces have carbon pricing schemes in the works.

Under cap-and-trade, emitters are essentially given a pollution allowance. If companies exceed their allowances they can purchase credits from firms below the threshold, and vice versa.

Saskatchewan, which has been developing carbon capture technology on a massive scale, is the lone holdout, and it has vowed to defend its oil and gas sector.

Its own climate plan, released in December, would target mostly large emitters and update its building code. The plan has been panned by federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.

Ottawa announced a minimum carbon price starting this year at C$10 (RM31) and rising each year to a maximum of C$50 (RM153) per tonne in 2022.

If provinces do not meet these minimums, Ottawa intervenes and imposes a carbon tax to make up the difference.

Canada’s Paris agreement commitment is to slash CO2 emissions 30% from 2005 levels by 2030.