The executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines says the organization is supportive of changes by the Yukon government to the carbon pricing rebate program for mining operators, but that it will take at least a year to know the full impact.
“The [Yukon] government did consult over the last few weeks,” Brianne Warner said in an Oct. 24 interview.
Premier and Finance Minister Sandy Silver tabled the changes in the legislature on Oct. 21 as the Carbon Price Rebate Amendments Act, with assent in the legislature on Oct. 24.
The changes bring the territorial legislation in line with new federal requirements, after the federal government put in new criteria to evaluate carbon pricing and rebate programs across the country.
The legislation merges the mining and general business rebates, while also aiming to cut down on administration for placer and quartz mining operators applying for the rebate.
Under the current regime, mining operators are required to file their paperwork for the carbon rebate by Sept. 30 each year. The new regulations would instead see operators claim the rebate at the same time they file income tax.
“The Yukon government supports putting a price on pollution as a mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring the territory remains competitive as we transition to a green economy,” Silver said in a statement.
“These amendments would ensure that carbon pricing revenues continue to benefit Yukon businesses and local governments in a way that recognizes the unique challenges facing trade-exposed industries and meets new national benchmark requirements.”
Reducing administrative barriers to mining operators is important, Warner said, pointing out mining work requires extremely long days during the mining season. Moving the rebate so it is claimed with income taxes will help address that.
With the federal government moving forward with additional requirements, Warner said it made sense for the Yukon government to make the required changes to the territorial legislation, also consulting with the Chamber of Mines on the changes.
“It’s a no-brainer,” she said of supporting the changes.
The territory has operated the carbon program as a revenue neutral fund since 2019, with carbon tax revenues being returned in the form of payments to individuals, businesses and other governments through the year.
It’s difficult to say what mining operations will benefit most from the changes, Warner said, pointing out there’s a range of factors that have an impact on carbon use. Some mines are on the grid, others aren’t, for example. The type and age of equipment each mine uses will have also have an impact as well as the stage of operation a mine is in and its size.
Warner said it will only be after miners go through the new process that the full impacts of the changes are known.
She’s hopeful that as the federal government alters its carbon pricing requirements across the country, it will look at more tangible ways to invest in infrastructure that reduces emissions.
Tying into the grid in British Columbia, for example, could benefit mines that would go off of diesel, not to mention all Yukoners as the territory continues to grow.
“We are isolated and our grid is maxed,” she pointed out, noting it will take more than one initiative for an impact to be seen. She highlighted working with First Nation development corporations and investing in multiple projects that help reduce the carbon footprint as measures the federal government could take.
While the federal government knows where it wants to go in reducing the country’s carbon footprint, it’s important to have a blueprint on how to best get there, Warner said.
She’s hopeful efforts will be made by the federal government to ensure it has that blueprint in place.
“I want to stay positive,” she said.
The existing framework will remain in place until Dec. 31, with the changes coming into effect in 2023.
Along with the changes to the mining framework, the act will also ensure businesses, municipalities and First Nation governments are protected under the rebate program.
“These amendments will ensure that Yukon businesses, municipalities and First Nations continue to benefit from the Yukon’s carbon pricing rebate system in a way that meets new requirements being imposed by the federal government,” Silver said.
“We are pleased to see the Yukon NDP and the Yukon Party support our made-in-Yukon carbon pricing rebate system. A price on pollution is an important tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, meet the Yukon’s targets in Our Clean Future and support the transition to a greener economy,” Silver said in an Oct. 24 statement after the act received assent.
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