4 things you need to know about Canada’s carbon price
During CTV’s “Question Period” yesterday, Canada’s Environment Minister, Catherine McKenna, announced that the government will impose a so-called carbon price if the country’s provinces fail to tackle greenhouse gas emissions. While McKenna didn’t reveal many concrete details, here is what we know so far:
It’s a financial deterrent for polluters
In short, a carbon price is a cost applied to greenhouse gas emissions to encourage serial polluters to curb their fossil fuel usage. Economists almost universally agree that a carbon price is the most effective way for a country to cut its carbon emissions.
There are usually two methods for establishing a carbon price: a carbon tax, which increases the price of fossil fuels and the goods and services created with them, and a cap-and-trade policy, in which companies can trade pollution permits amongst themselves, creating a market for emissions.
It’s going to be implemented next month
McKenna said during Question Period that the country’s new carbon price would come into effect next month and act as a “backstop” for the provinces unwilling or incapable of regulating their own emissions.
"It's mandatory that everyone will have to have a price on carbon," McKenna said. "If provinces don't do that, the federal government will provide a backstop."
There’s likely to be pushback
Alberta, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia all have either cap-and-trade systems and carbon taxes in place — or plans to implement one or the other in the near future. However, provinces like Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have claimed that the federal regulation of emissions could have negative impacts on local consumers and businesses.
It builds on an existing agreement
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brokered an agreement with the provinces in March, which saw them agree to the concept of putting a price on emissions, but agreed that details, including personalised plans for each, would be arranged at a later date.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.