Canada will impose a carbon price on provinces that do not adequately regulate emissions by themselves, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said on Sunday without giving details on how the Liberal government will do so.
Speaking on the CTV broadcaster’s Question Period, a national politics talk show, McKenna said the new emissions regime will be in place sometime in October, before a federal-provincial meeting on the matter.
She said the government will have a “backstop” for provinces which do not comply. She did not elaborate or address questions on penalties for defiance.
Canada’s 10 provinces, which enjoy significant jurisdiction over the environment, have been wary of Ottawa’s intentions and have said they should be allowed to cut carbon emissions their own way.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau persuaded the provinces in March to accept a compromise deal that acknowledged the concept of putting a price on carbon emissions, but agreed the specific details, which would take into account provinces’ individual circumstances, could be worked out later.
McKenna’s ministry, Environment and Climate Change Canada, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Canada’s four largest provinces, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, currently have either a tax on carbon or a cap-and-trade emissions-limiting system.
But Brad Wall, the right-leaning premier of the western energy-producing province of Saskatchewan, has long been resistant to federal emissions-limiting plans.
McKenna said the government requires some uniformity in emissions reductions, but provinces can have different regulation methods.
“We have two systems,” she said. “We’re going to need to figure out equivalency on those systems.”
McKenna did not address questions on whether the government will update its emission targets, which were set by former Conservative government
The previous government had pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, a target that official figures show is out of reach in the absence of radical measures.
McKenna had called the prices “a floor, not a ceiling,” but said on Sunday only that the government will meet the previous targets “at least.”