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Scheer Vows to Scrap Federal Clean Fuel Standard

Canadian Conservative leader Andrew Scheer is vowing to scrap a key element of the Trudeau Liberals’ climate agenda, its yet-to-be-finalized clean fuel standard, if he forms a government after the federal election this fall.

Scheer’s statement aligns with a campaign against the fuel standard launched last summer by the then Rachel Notley government in Alberta and its fossil industry allies, and with the industry’s lobbying since. In its 2019 election platform, CBC says, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) demands that all parties “withdraw the proposed clean fuel standard in its entirety, as it will increase costs to both industry and Canadians.”

CBC notes the fuel standard was introduced three years ago, but won’t be finalized until after the election. “In addition to the existing carbon tax regime, the Liberal government has said it wants to make the fuel supply (like gas for autos or home heating fuel) cleaner, to reduce carbon emissions and help Canada meet targets set under the Paris climate change accord,” the national broadcaster states. 

“While the federal government is still in the midst of a years-long consultation process on what form a national fuel standard will take, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said late last month the plan will demand that fuel companies produce cleaner products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 megatonnes a year by 2030,” writes parliamentary correspondent John Paul Tasker. “To hit that target, the government projects the carbon intensity of liquid fuels such as gasoline and diesel will need to be 10 to 12% lower than it was in 2016.”

A federal backgrounder released late last month said fossils will be allowed to either meet the standard themselves, by improving their refining processes to produce cleaner fuels, or to buy credits from electric vehicle or charging station manufacturers, farmers who turn waste into renewable biofuels, or other low-carbon producers.

In a letter to Trudeau, Scheer cast the standard as a “secret fuel tax”, and “an unprecedented tax that will apply to all fuel sources, including the fuel used for manufacturing and home heating, which will make Canadian businesses less competitive and gas more expensive.” But McKenna’s parliamentary secretary, Nova Scotia MP Sean Fraser, said that kind of rhetoric threatened the country’s climate commitments.

“All we hear from Andrew Scheer is how he wants to do less to tackle climate change, when the science says we need to be doing more,” Fraser said. “Doing less will cost Canadians, who are already feeling the impacts in extreme weather events like floods and fires, and health risks like lyme disease and asthma.”