Question Period: We must face climate change head on, 26 October 2018

Mr. Coon: The Premier has said on a number of occasions that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity and that government must take concrete actions to tackle climate change. Most New Brunswickers agree, as I do. The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, however, reminds us how urgently we must take action, concluding that limiting global warming to 1.5ºC requires transitions in energy, transportation, buildings, infrastructure, and industry. This implies deep emission reductions in all sectors and a significant increase in investments to get there. Can the Premier tell this House how he intends to manage this critical transition for New Brunswickers when he was unable to design a carbon-pricing plan that was compliant with federal rules?

Hon. Mr. Gallant: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the member opposite’s question. I could not agree more that we all have to step up and do everything that we can to fight climate change together. That includes all countries across the globe, every province within our country, and, of course, all New Brunswickers. That is why we put forward a plan that we believe will help us to do exactly that—play our role to combat change, all the while ensuring that we can still continue the economic growth that we have created together and ensuring that families that are struggling to get ahead do not see even more pressure on the cost of living.
Mr. Speaker, I want to assure New Brunswickers that we have a plan that was accepted in terms of many components. We have a plan that will phase out electricity generated by coal by 2030, which the federal government wanted to see across the country. We have a plan that will invest heavily in energy efficiency with the plan. Of course, we want to ask large emitters to pay their fair share. When it comes to consumers, we want to ensure that they do not pay one more cent.

Mr. Coon: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Climate change is damaging the health and well-being of New Brunswickers now. We need solutions now, developed in New Brunswick by New Brunswickers. The IPCC says that the world has a dozen years to turn things around, yet all I hear now is the Premier joining the Tories in fighting measures designed to fight climate change. Will the Premier finally commit to implementing a made-in-New Brunswick carbon-pricing plan, as recommended by the Select Committee on Climate Change from this House, that is compliant with federal carbon-pricing rules so that we can replace the federal carbon-pricing system with our own and control our own destiny? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Gallant: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member opposite that it has an impact on the health and well-being of New Brunswickers, and I would even add that studies very much show that climate change will have an impact on our economy as well. Therefore, for many reasons, including that it is the right thing to do for the next generation but also because it is in the interest of all New Brunswickers, Canadians, and people across the globe, we need to step up to combat climate change. I will not repeat all the components of our plan that will be moving forward and that are compliant. When it comes to the consumer piece, I want to make something really clear here. Our argument is that the taxes on gas in New Brunswick are already some of the highest in the country. Therefore, we believe that since we have already taken action and essentially put a price on carbon by having the excise tax and the HST where they are, we here in New Brunswick should be able to ensure that consumers do not pay more. We do not think it is fair that New Brunswick consumers will pay more while somebody in Alberta will not pay even as much as we are at the moment. That is why we are standing up for New Brunswickers.