Yukon Premier Sandy Silver talks about carbon pricing at press conference in April 2017. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver discusses carbon pricing plans

The federal backstop will be active in July

The Yukon will be subjected to a federally-imposed price on carbon in July as the deadline for the rollout as been extended, Premier Sandy Silver told the News following his visit to Ottawa this week.

“We’ve pushed back the deadlines, so the rest of Canada is going to be feeling that federal backstop in January,” he said in an interview Oct. 30.

Silver visited Ottawa to discuss the Yukon’s distinct needs when it comes to carbon pricing.

When the plan comes online, the levy will lower greenhouse gas emissions in the territory by about one per cent below the “projected business-as-usual baseline,” according to a summary of a Yukon-specific federal study. In 2020, reductions will climb to about 3.4 per cent and to 5.4 per cent in 2022.

Once the plan is active, carbon will be priced at $20 per tonne to start.

On average, Yukon households will pay roughly $260 on an annual basis, according to the summary.

Residents and businesses will be entitled to a 100 per cent rebate, Silver said.

“They’re even getting more than 100 per cent when you think about it,” he continued. “Our government will be paying at the pump, our fleet vehicles, all that other stuff, that money will also go into the pool. People who travel through the Yukon — that money will also go into the pool.

“We promised to rebate 100 per cent of the money to Yukoners and Yukon businesses and that commitment will happen.”

Just how that rebate will be circulated back to Yukoners continues to be hashed out with the federal government, Silver added, noting that the “lion’s share” of the work is completed.

Asked when residents can expect more information on rebates, Silver said, once more details are available, “as soon as possible.”

“We believe we’ve done a good job of effectively campaigning for Yukoners and the unique circumstances,” he said. “That has happened through the rebates and the exemptions that we’ve got so far, but there’s a few more pieces that need to get worked out.”

The aviation sector across the North will be given a complete exemption from the carbon pricing, Silver said.

“If you’re travelling from Whitehorse and going to Dawson or Old Crow, those carriers will not pay at the pump at all,” he said.

The Yukon government is looking for more flexibility from Ottawa on home heating sources, Silver said.

“Nothing new to announce there yet,” he said.

“We had a very progressive conversation with (Environment Minister Catherine McKenna). We’re even closer now to be able to release those final details.”

While in the capital, Silver also appeared on CTV’s “Power Play” to discuss the carbon pricing plans, stating that, “We’ll get the results, we’ll get the analysis and the data and we’ll see if this actually reduces green house gases.”

It was this line that Yukon Party Interim Leader Stacey Hassard clung to during question period on Oct. 30.

“The premier admits he doesn’t know if this will actually reduce emissions, but he signed on to it anyway,” Hassard said in the House. “The Premier likes to brag about evidence-based decision-making a lot, but I think usually you get the analysis, the data, and the evidence before you make the decision. Instead, what the Liberals are doing here is decision-based evidence-making.”

Silver told the News that the official Opposition “can continue to try to mislead and drive from the backseat, but we’re going to focus in on what matter to most Yukoners. It’s just a shame, really, that they’re going to try to misconceive quotes. I stand by my quote. It’s a matter of fact, time will tell.”

Time is running out, Silver continued, and the Yukon needs to act.

Silver said there have been record lows of precipitation one month and record highs the next.

“The Slims River, you know, receding and changing direction because of receding glaciers — one metre of melt a year,” he said.

“I’m pleased that we have a federal government that’s trying to address man-made climate change and my message to Ottawa was the specific things we’re seeing here.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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