Canada to get $1.8B to combat air pollution, climate change as emissions plunge
Canada is to receive a $1 billion-plus grant to combat global air pollution and climate change, with a big boost for cities.
The funding is to be paid for by a 10 per cent levy on gasoline taxes.
The tax will be in addition to other tax increases already on the books, including a hike in the minimum wage, a carbon tax and an increase in sales tax.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the grants in Ottawa Wednesday, saying Canada has to address air quality and climate issues “now.”
The announcement came hours after the government unveiled its greenhouse gas reduction target, which it says is the highest level ever for the world, with some cities and provinces even exceeding it.
The target is $15 per tonne of CO2 emissions, the equivalent of taking Canada’s entire emissions from cars to meet the Paris climate accord.
It was announced at a news conference with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard.
In a statement, the government said the tax hike will bring Canada to the highest global carbon emission reduction targets ever achieved by a country.
The new funding will be a boon for cities that have been struggling to deal with air pollution that has become a major driver of climate change.
“It is clear that climate change is affecting every aspect of our lives and we must all work together to address it,” the statement said.
It also noted that the provincial government has agreed to spend up to $6 billion to tackle climate change in the province, while Ottawa has committed $4 billion over five years to help reduce CO2 in the air.
The announcement comes at a time when Canada’s provincial government is struggling to come up with a new budget, and as the country’s economy is on the brink of recession.
The Liberals, in a bid to boost their popularity with voters, have made no changes to their policies.
They have also promised to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021, and announced plans to spend $30 billion to help businesses adapt to climate change by 2020.
The Liberal government is also planning to boost the tax on gasoline, to bring the price of the most expensive type of gasoline up to around $2.50 per litre.
While the federal government is committing to help cities in their efforts to address climate change and climate finance, the Liberal government says it has also committed to increase taxes in other areas to pay for the increase.
That includes a $10-a-day carbon tax, and a hike on the sales tax, a change that the Liberals say will make it more attractive for Canadians to spend money on clean energy.
The money is to come from a levy on the gasoline tax and other taxes, including the provincial sales tax and property taxes.
“I want to thank Premier Couillard for taking this opportunity to announce a $5.6 billion commitment to support our climate action plan,” Trudeau said Wednesday.
Couillard said the government will also increase the minimum hourly wage by five cents a day to $10.50.
Trudeau said the Liberal plan would not affect the provincial carbon tax or other taxes.
But it would mean that the provinces and territories could choose not to impose a carbon price.
He said the province would not increase the gas tax in the future.
The Trudeau government says the federal funding will help Canada meet its climate change targets.
Trudeau promised in his announcement that the government would increase funding for research into clean energy and climate-change mitigation, and for new projects such as the Global Climate Leadership Team.
“As our economy continues to struggle, we must find new ways to boost investment in our clean energy sector, including by supporting clean technology companies, infrastructure investments, and clean energy research,” Trudeau wrote.
“The $5 billion in new funding to help the provinces tackle the climate crisis will go a long way to making that happen.”