Standing up for Yukon by standing against a carbon tax

Darrell Pasloski, Premier, MLA for MountainviewAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, September 23, 2016
by Premier Darrell Pasloski

Here in Yukon we feel the effects of climate change every day. Whether it’s through damage to highways and buildings from melting permafrost, or changes to the water levels in our lakes, the reality is that climate change is an issue that must be addressed by all levels of government, and by each and every Yukoner.

However, the action we take in Yukon should be practical, should actually reduce emissions, and should reflect our Northern reality. It’s colder here than in southern Canada. We can’t take the subway to work. We have to truck most of our goods up the highway. And, our communities are spread out over vast distances.

Made-in-the-South solutions like a carbon tax simply won’t work here. At the end of the day, we still have to heat our homes, fuel our vehicles and buy food to eat. A carbon tax would make those things, and everything else, more expensive. Earlier this year, the independent and non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Officer did an analysis of the impacts of a carbon tax and found that in order for such a tax to actually be effective it would likely increase the price of gasoline by 24 cents per litre.

As Yukoners turn their furnaces on this fall, we shouldn’t have to budget for an additional tax on keeping our families warm. Unfortunately, both the Yukon Liberals and Yukon NDP have indicated they have no intention of standing up against a federally-imposed carbon tax, even though it will increase the cost of living for all of us.

The Yukon Party fully supports action to address climate change and has a made-in-Yukon suite of solutions to reduce emissions, grow the economy, and keep taxes low.

One example is our investment in major retrofits to buildings throughout Yukon, which is cutting carbon emissions and creating jobs. In fact, this summer the federal minister of Environment recognized the great work we’re doing and highlighted that, thanks to our efforts, commercial building owners saved an estimated $150,000 in energy costs in 2015.

In addition to our support of retrofits and energy-efficient buildings, we are taking a number of other measures. Over the last five years, we have increased the amount of green energy that Yukon produces, and our electrical grid is 95 per cent clean – much higher than the national average of 79 per cent.

Our implementation of the Yukon Energy Strategy and the Climate Change Action Plan has led to the expansion of Yukon’s hydro grid to reduce communities’ reliance on diesel, the adoption of a territorial biomass strategy, the development of new technologies at the Cold Climate Innovation Centre and progress on the Next Generation Hydro Project.

The Liberals and NDP don’t seem to understand that a carbon tax would have a negative impact on our quality of life. Canada’s northern economies in particular are small and developing. We need to cultivate and grow them, so that northerners can prosper and not be burdened with additional costs and barriers to success.

That is exactly what our government will work to ensure, by standing firmly in opposition to any carbon tax on Yukoners.