Carbon taxes on coal-fired power plants to affect only some of their emissions

Coal-fired power plants in Canada will pay to keep polluting once the federal government imposes a carbon price, but like other heavy emitters in Canada they won't pay for every tonne of greenhouse gas they produce.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says the final regulations for the emission-pricing system for big industry are still in development but insists coal plants will pay a carbon price until national regulations force them out of existence by 2030.

However coal plants will not pay the $20-per-tonne carbon price on all of the coal they burn to generate electricity, rather they will be affected by the carbon pricing system for big emitters, which applies the price only to a portion of the emissions they produce.

The system for big industry affects any facility that produces at least 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, and all of Canada's remaining coal plants are well above that marker.

The federal system for big industry will apply in the provinces and territories that requested it or those that don't have equivalent systems of their own.

Conservative Finance Critic Pierre Poilievre says this plan exempts the biggest polluters from paying their fair share of the carbon price, and instead saddles soccer moms and grandmothers on fixed incomes with a far bigger burden.