Fracking and a carbon plan: You can't do both, says Green leader

The new Progressive Conservative government says it wants to lift the moratorium on fracking in the Sussex-area and stick to the Liberal government's 2016 plan of transitioning to a lower carbon economy. 

But it can't do both, says Green Party Leader David Coon.

"That's going to add a considerable amount of greenhouse gas into the system and, of course, go into the other direction of fossil fuels, making us more dependant than ever," Coon said in an interview with Information Morning Moncton.

"We need to remember that the ultimate target is to get off of fossil fuels."

At a news conference on Wednesday, Premier Blaine Higgs said he would be asking the federal government to put on hold plans to impose emissions regulations on industrial emitters in the province on Jan. 1.

He also unveiled what he considers a "made-in-New Brunswick" plan to address climate change.

Higgs said the plan regulates large industrial emitters, without unfairly targeting businesses. At the same time, he vowed to meet New Brunswick's emissions-reductions goal for 2030. The premier did not, however, provides specifics on how the government would regulate industry.

Ottawa has since rejected Higgs's request to delay imposing a carbon pricing plan on industry.

'We've got work to do'

Higgs also claimed he would be adopting the Liberal government's 2016 plan, Transitioning To A Low Carbon Economy and has "no intention to re-invent the wheel."

Coon said fully implementing the plan that was developed under the previous government — based on recommendations from a select committee that Coon sat on — should enable New Brunswick to reach the target, which is 10.7 megatons of annual emissions by 2030.

James West/Canadian Press

The plan calls for a greater emphasis on renewable energy and a co-ordinated approach to energy efficiency in businesses and homes across the province. 

Although Coon supports the plan if fully implemented, he's also worried that Higgs made no mention to the 2030 target at Wednesday's news conference.

The premier did mention the other emissions-reduction goal for 2030 of 14.1 megatons of carbon dioxide. That target is based on applying Canada's national reductions target under the Paris climate agreement.

The Liberals, however, adopted the more ambitious goal of 10.7 megatons.

The province has almost reached its 30 per cent reduction target — the 14.1-megatons goal — from 2005 levels.

"It makes it seem like we don't have to do very much to achieve our objectives," Coon said.

"We need to get off fossil fuels and that means significant movement toward expanding our use of renewable energy."

Coon said the plan has also achieved very little since it was implemented two years ago but he's hopeful the Higgs government will implement the plan with a sense of urgency.

"We've got to get to work."