06/15/2015 17:56 EDT | Updated 06/15/2016 01:12 EDT

Greens propose carbon pricing, dividend as keys to climate change plan

OTTAWA - The federal Green party says it would charge a fee for extracting fossil fuels from the ground and return the money to Canadians in the form of a cash dividend if elected this fall.Green party Leader Elizabeth May is billing the major plank of her election platform as the surest means of virtually weaning Canada off carbon-based energy sources by the middle of the century.Under the plan, the carbon fee would be levied on fossil fuels at source — when coal, oil or gas comes out of the ground or crosses the border into Canada.It means consumers would pay higher prices at the gas pump and when buying fossil fuel-based products like plastics, pesticides and fertilizers, the party acknowledges.However every Canadian adult would either receive a cheque or a reduction of their personal income taxes to offset their increased carbon costs. "We need a national carbon price, and it needs to be fair to all regions," May told a news conference Monday in Victoria, B.C.The party would also eliminate all fossil-fuel subsidies and reduce energy waste through improved public transit and more efficient water-treatment systems.A federally funded retrofit program would shrink the 30 per cent of Canada's greenhouse gases that come from leaking buildings, May said.Governments plan to gather in Paris in December for a global summit on climate change — two months after Canadians go to the polls in a federal election.Greens advocate a 40-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2025.By comparison, the Conservative government is calling for a 30-per-cent reduction below 2005 levels by 2030."We need to take action now and it needs to be meaningful," May said. "We will make the case that climate cannot be ignored in this election."Encouraging the shift to greener energy sources will not only help the environment, but also create jobs, she added."When we get carbon out of electricity, we will make big strides as we build up our renewable energy sector."Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter