NDP Calls on Pallister Government To Use Carbon Tax Revenues for Clean Buses & Cars

The Pallister government must commit to using the new carbon tax to put more electric buses and cars on Manitoba roads, NDP MLA Rob Altemeyer said today.

“Pallister will soon be receiving millions of dollars, thanks to the new federal carbon tax,” Altemeyer said. “He must commit to using some of that revenue to provide interest-free loans to municipalities and individual Manitobans for the purchase of electric vehicles to reduce climate emissions right away and save money over the long term.”

Altemeyer noted there is a huge opportunity to reduce the number of fossil-fuel vehicles on our roads, create new green jobs, protect our environment and help the province meet its obligation to cut greenhouse gas emissions. While electric vehicles cost more upfront, owners would see significant savings over the long run because they are so incredibly cheap to operate and maintain, said Altemeyer, NDP critic for the environment & green jobs.

A partnership brokered by the previous NDP government led to the creation of a new all-electric bus, now manufactured locally by New Flyer Industries. Four of these buses are on Winnipeg roads already, but they represent only a small fraction of Winnipeg Transit’s fleet of 585 buses.

“Improving public transit has to be a key part of any made-in-Manitoba climate strategy, where transportation is our largest source of emissions,” said Altemeyer. “The cheaper operating costs of electric buses mean savings that can be used to improve transit services and reduce fares, rather than service cuts and higher fares.”

Ross Redman, a member of the Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association (MEVA) and owner of the first Mitsubishi i-MiEV car sold in Canada now in its sixth winter, confirms there are major savings available by going electric.

“Even at today’s low pump prices, most gasoline-powered cars cost well over $1,000 per year in fuel and many hundreds more in repairs and maintenance,” said Redman. “My energy costs to drive year-round are less than $100 and my electric vehicle has no engine or transmission to maintain or fix. And yes, that includes winter driving in Winnipeg.”

Altemeyer noted that one tool the government could use would be interest-free Pay-As-You-Save loans, financed from carbon tax revenue.

“With the cost of electric vehicles on the decline and by providing an interest-free loan, electric vehicles can become more accessible to more Manitobans,” said Altemeyer. “Add in the fact that we will be using more clean, locally produced electricity rather than imported fossil fuels and the economic benefits to Manitoba Hydro and our economy as a whole are pretty clear.”

Anyone interested in showing support for this idea can complete a short survey at http://yourmanitoba.ca/caucus2010/electricvehicles. Completing the survey does not obligate anyone to purchase an electric vehicle and all feedback received will be kept strictly confidential.

In November, Altemeyer introduced a motion in the legislature calling for climate change action from the Pallister government. The Conservatives blocked the motion.
Premier Pallister and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall are the only holdouts refusing to sign the federal government framework on carbon pricing.

BACKGROUND

  • Transit buses typically last 12 years.
  • Each electric bus reduces emission by roughly 125 metric tonnes each year.
  • There are just over 600 total public transit buses in Winnipeg, Selkirk, Brandon and Flin Flon.
  • Renewing these fleets with electric buses starting this year would achieve an annual emission reduction of roughly 75,000 tonnes by 2030.
  • Manitobans pay between $2 billion and $3 billion per year for imported fossil fuels.
  • Every 10 cent increase in the price of a litre of gas means roughly another $250 million leaves the Manitoba economy annually to pay for fossil fuel imports.
  • Manitobans have among the cheapest residential electricity costs in all of North America. In neighbouring Ontario and Saskatchewan, residential power costs are nearly double what we have enjoyed here.
  • The year 2030 is when Manitoba is supposed to achieve an initial 33 per cent reduction in climate emissions from 2005 levels. This target requires a reduction of seven million tonnes in annual emissions. New initiatives across multiple sectors will be required to achieve this goal.
  • The year 2016 was the warmest on record for global temperatures.
    CUTLINE FOR SUPPLIED PHOTO: NDP Environment Critic Rob Altemeyer (centre) with electric car owners Bill Rossington (left) and Ross Redman (right) and their cars at the Manitoba Legislative Building.