Canada set to agree carbon price, marking climate split with Trump

Canada’s government and 10 provinces are set to agree a national carbon price on Friday, doubling down on a bid to cut greenhouse gas emissions just weeks before avowed climate change skeptic Donald Trump becomes U.S. President.

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the carbon price - the first of its kind in Canada - will help the country meet its targets under the 2015 Paris environmental accords and boost the Canadian clean technology sector.

The price deal is another sign of Trudeau’s alignment on climate issues with U.S. President Barack Obama, who is pressing to curb greenhouse emissions, mainly from coal-fired power plants. Trump has said he wants to help the coal industry and would pull out of the Paris agreement as it was harmful to the U.S. economy..

Canada’s government has brushed aside critics who fret the carbon deal could make Canadian businesses uncompetitive at a time when U.S. energy prices may come down as a result of Trump policies.

“We think that we’ve struck the right balance … it’s tough to speculate on what President-elect Trump will do. We will be defending Canada’s interests on the basis of the action of the new administration,” said Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.

Under Trudeau’s plan, carbon pollution would cost C$10 ($7.60) a ton in 2018, rising by C$10 a year until it reaches C$50 in 2022. The provinces can either implement a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade market and hold-outs will have a price imposed by Ottawa.

Environmental groups say the carbon price and other federal measures announced this year, such as a clean fuel standard and a plan to combat methane emissions, mean Canada might attain its Paris goal of reducing emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

“If the United States is reading between the lines, this is Canada trying to get more market share of the clean tech sector globally,” said Erin Flanagan of the Pembina Institute.

The main obstacle to a deal on Friday is Brad Wall, premier of the energy-producing province of Saskatchewan, who is threatening to take Ottawa to court over carbon pricing.

Howard Leeson, political science professor at the University of Regina, said Wall did not have enough provincial allies to try to block the agreement.

“I don’t think it’s frankly a big deal if he is the only person not signing on because the (price) will go ahead any way,” he said.

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