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Global leaders agree to set price on carbon pollution
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) April 21, 2016

Alberta offers rebates to adjust to carbon levy
Edmonton, Alberta (UPI) Apr 21, 2016 - A provincial government in Canada said it was offering hundreds of dollars in rebates to help families adjust to a shifting energy landscape.

Residents in oil-rich Alberta next year will pay extra for gasoline, diesel and natural gas used for home-heating as part of a carbon levy. Most of the revenue generated through the levy will support the development of renewable energy and other low-carbon developments.

Shannon Phillips, the provincial minister for the environment, said the new levy would in part help put Albertans back to work and add diversity to an economy that relies heavily in oil.

"We are committed to providing Albertans with the support they need to take action and help make Alberta a leader in the fight against climate change," she said in a statement.

Officials from the opposition Wildlife party said Monday the provincial government was misleading the public about the true costs of the carbon tax. When fully implemented, the party said families would face as much as $1,000 in extra costs.

Phillips said the administration would offer full or partial rebates to low- and middle-class families, or the equivalent of around 65 percent of provincial households. The opposition said the rebate ignores cost-of-living expenses and higher utility bills.

"It's just the wrong choice to make for our economy and jobs at a time when families and businesses are being forced to squeeze every penny," opposition leader Brian Jean said in a statement.

Last month, the provincial government estimated the economy, measured in real gross domestic product, will shrink by 1.1 percent this year, after a 1.5 percent decline for full-year 2015. The total revenue forecast for the fiscal year of $31.2 billion is $478 million lower than estimated in the budget last year.

Lower crude oil prices means less revenue for the provincial government. Provincial Finance Minister Joe Ceci said non-renewable revenue could decline by as much as 90 percent, a squeeze he said could "have profound consequences for generations to come."

Six world leaders and the heads of powerful multilateral organizations agreed Thursday to push for broader implementation of carbon pricing schemes to accelerate the fight against global warming.

The leaders of Canada, Germany, France, Mexico, Ethiopia and Chile, along with the IMF, World Bank, and OECD, pressed for the use of carbon pricing to cover 25 percent of global emissions within four years, double the current level.

And they want pricing to cover 50 percent of all emissions within one decade. They said faster and wider implementation is needed to achieve the goal of limiting the rise in the average global temperature to below 2.0C above pre-industrial levels.

Carbon pricing aims to set a cost to polluters and create schemes through which they can pay that cost and be incentivized to lower emissions -- for instance, through "cap and trade" systems that allow polluters to buy and sell carbon credits, as well as direct taxes on emissions.

The ambitious targets were announced by the World Bank and IMF-organized Carbon Pricing Panel one day before leaders and envoys from more than 160 countries gather in New York to sign the COP21 climate-change pact the world agreed to in Paris last December.

"There is a growing sense of inevitability about putting a price on carbon pollution," said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in a statement.

"In order to deliver on the promises of the historic Paris climate agreement, a price on carbon pollution will be essential to help cut emissions and drive investments into innovation and cleaner technologies."

Currently around 40 countries and 23 cities and regions have adopted schemes for pricing carbon pollution, covering about 12 percent of global emissions.

"The Paris Agreement must be implemented successfully to ensure a safer climate future," said Chile's President Michelle Bachelet.

"We share a common vision in the panel that expanding carbon pricing in the world is good for the economy and the planet."

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