Canada's premiers met in Winnipeg this week, concerned by the cost of 'green energy' policies.
Wrapping up their annual three-day conference Wednesday, they opposed some of Ottawa's plans to reduce emissions. Some laid the clean fuel regulations and clean electricity regulations as threats to the country's competitiveness, leaving consumers and businesses to pick up the tab.
"It just seems to be a pile-on of additional costs," said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs. "Let's get some recognition for the impact this has on everyday lives."
"The impact of the Clean Fuel Standard is unknown," added Newfoundland Premier Andrew Furey.
"When you ask the federal minister…what impact will this have? He admittedly says it won't be zero but doesn't understand the true impact on the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador."
The clean fuel regulations came into force on July 1 for refineries with a year to comply. Ottawa contends consumer costs will not increase immediately.
In addition, the pending Supreme Court of Canada decision on a provincial challenge to the federal environmental impact legislation adds fuel to the raging opposition.
Alberta and Saskatchewan refuted the clean electricity regulations in May, citing concerns about affordability and residential utility bills.
While the federal environment minister threatened Saskatchewan, who refused to close its coal-fired energy plants by 2030, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith told reporters her government intends to "stand with Premier Scott Moe."
"Two major pieces are coming forward — an emissions cap on oil and natural gas, and a 'net-zero' power grid by 2035. Both are unachievable," Smith told Ryan Jesperson on Real Talk.
"If we can keep a target of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, we will be perfectly in sync," she said. "Don't try to accelerate if the technology isn't there and the timeline is too fast."
On Wednesday, Moe told reporters, "When you layer on policy after policy after policy, there are costs." He rejected the proposed clean electricity regulations, given that Ottawa wants a 'net-zero' electricity grid by 2035.
Saskatchewan ratepayers would be on the hook for $8 billion in stranded costs by complying with the feds on' net-zero' electricity. Smith forewarned that electricity bills would jump 40% within her province.
The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) said transitioning to a net-zero grid would cost between $44 billion and $52 billion over the next decade. However, power generation costs would exceed $92.2 billion during the same period.
According to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (EPA) framework, provinces must either decommission their coal power plants, transition them to natural gas, or outfit them with carbon-capture systems by 2030. To ignore the framework would constitute a Criminal Code violation.
Ultimately, both premiers hope the federal government reconsiders its interim 'net-zero' benchmarks and prioritizes affordability.
In 2021, Parliament passed the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act with the lofty expectation of reaching 'net-zero' emissions by 2050. They also passed an interim plan, the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), specifically targeting oil and gas emissions.
It would require "emission reductions to 31% below 2005 levels in 2030 [or to 42% below 2019 levels]," which would build a pathway to 'net-zero' emissions by 2050.
Smith said the feds need to build the infrastructure, such as ports, railways and pipelines, to help provinces get their products to market.
She said that by making further investments in technology to reduce emissions, future economic growth would not come at the expense of targeting carbon emissions.
"The problem with the federal approach is it's all stick and no carrot," continued Smith. "We can meet green energy standards and emissions targets, but we have to have growing economies."
Federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Minister Steven Guilbeault claimed the clean fuel regulations will "help Canada thrive in the global low-carbon economy."
"[It will] give companies different options to reduce their pollution without downloading extra costs on consumers," they added.
According to the joint statement, these policies will 'spark innovation, making the country more competitive while reducing consumer costs and providing them with energy security.
However, the Fraser Institute found that Canada's per-person GDP is growing at its slowest rate since the Great Depression.
Per-person GDP, the value of goods and services per Canadian, is a common measure of prosperity. From 2013 to 2022, per-person GDP in Canada grew by a dismal 0.8% (after adjusting for inflation).
They said this is a "Canadian-made problem" rooted in declining business investment and stagnating growth in exports, two critical economic sectors.
Specifically, the value of business investment in the fourth quarter of 2022 ($189.8 billion) fell 17.6% lower than the end of 2014 (after adjusting for inflation). The value of exports also flatlined over the same period.
"If policymakers want to increase economic growth and attract investment, they should enact pro-growth policies and encourage entrepreneurship," said Philip Cross, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.