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Pasloski says feds won't impose carbon tax on Yukon

Premier Darrell Pasloski said he's pleased with the outcome of this week's first ministers meeting in Vancouver, claiming that "we'll be able to move forward and not implement a tax that will really make everything cost more.

Premier Darrell Pasloski said he’s pleased with the outcome of this week’s first ministers meeting in Vancouver, claiming that “we’ll be able to move forward and not implement a tax that will really make everything cost more.”

Pasloski joined Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall last week in voicing his opposition to a national price on carbon. He said a carbon tax would increase the cost of living in the Yukon, which is already an expensive place to live.

“I’m pleased that through these meetings, that the prime minister and the other premiers were able to recognize the unique circumstances that exist in the Arctic and sub-Arctic,” Pasloski told the News from Vancouver.

It’s not clear exactly what the first ministers meeting will mean for carbon pricing. On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers signed an agreement on clean growth and climate change that recognizes the importance of carbon pricing, but doesn’t make any firm commitments to a national carbon price.

Instead, the country’s leaders have committed to transition to a low-carbon economy using a range of measures, “including carbon pricing mechanisms, adapted to each province’s and territory’s specific circumstances, in particular the realities of Canada’s indigenous peoples and Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.”

The vague language marks a change from reports earlier in the week that suggested Trudeau was ready to impose a national price on carbon if the premiers couldn’t agree.

Pasloski didn’t say what he would do if the federal government does decide to impose a carbon tax. But he seemed fairly confident on Thursday that that won’t happen, re-tweeting a comment from Wall that “there will be no nat’l carbon tax.”

The premier also released a joint statement with the other territorial premiers on Wednesday. Neither Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna or Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod explicitly mentioned a carbon tax, but Taptuna did say that “Northern Canada’s combined greenhouse-gas emissions are minute.”

Both he and McLeod stressed the need for climate-change adaptation in the North.

In Vancouver, Canada’s premiers also agreed to create working groups in four areas: clean technology, innovation and jobs; carbon pricing; mitigation; and adaptation and resilience. The groups will make recommendations to the first ministers by October 2016, when they will develop a “pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change.”

In the meantime, the federal government has also committed to investments in green infrastructure, greenhouse-gas emission reductions and “clean energy solutions to help get indigenous, remote and northern communities off diesel.”

Pasloski said he will focus on retrofits to residential, commercial and industrial buildings that will reduce fuel use.

Kluane First Nation Chief Mathieya Alatini, who was in Vancouver on Wednesday, said she was pleased with what she heard from the premiers.

“There was a real willingness from every premier to work with First Nation governments to address the problem and to work together,” she said.

She agreed with Pasloski that a carbon tax isn’t the best solution for the Yukon.

“For us, a lot of fuel comes from B.C., which already has a carbon tax on it,” she said. “You get a lot more bang for your buck if you look at tax incentives.”

Alatini said she’s excited about announcements from Trudeau this week that his government is committing $125 million for two new clean technology funds and $75 million for climate-change initiatives in communities.

The Kluane First Nation has moved forward with plans to build three wind turbines, and has also drilled a geothermal well intended to heat the local greenhouse and water treatment facility.

Alatini hopes the community will be eligible for some of the new funding.

“I’m on it,” she said. “It’s incentivizing becoming green. I think we’re a lot better off if we do that type of solution versus taxing people.”

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