How to spend P.E.I.'s carbon tax

With P.E.I. about to enter into negotiations with the federal government on a new carbon pricing deal, the Progressive Conservative government and Green Opposition have some different ideas about how the money raised should be spent.

Environment Minister Brad Trivers and Green MLA Lynne Lund — who also chairs the legislative committee on climate change — laid out their positions on CBC Radio's Island Morning Monday.

Trivers noted his government has already shown its willingness to move carbon-tax money into environmental projects, by scrapping the previous government's program of offering free driver's licences.

"We want to make sure we use it to do things that benefit Islanders directly, as well as directly lead to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions," said Trivers.

One program under consideration by government is an active transportation fund, he said, which would create corridors for biking and walking around the province.

Randy McAndrew/CBC

Lund said while she supports investments in active transportation, she doesn't think the money should come from the carbon tax.

"It's very important that that money goes directly back to Islanders," she said.

"We shouldn't be disproportionately hurting low-income Islanders or people who genuinely cannot choose another option at this time."

'This is achievable'

Both Lund and Trivers sit on the climate change committee, and agree bold and transformative change is required.

"This is why this special committee on climate change is so important," said Trivers.

"That's where we have to look at the different tools we have and make sure we use the right combination, so that we can get there in a way that's palatable and reasonable for Islanders."

Al MacCormick/CBC

"I am absolutely convinced that this is achievable," said Lund of the province's new 1.2 megatonne emissions target for 2030.

"The real question is which of the various tools that we have at our disposal are we going to use to do this in the most cost-effective way possible."

The committee is meeting with climate experts and holding public meetings this winter, and is expected to deliver some short-term recommendations this spring.

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