February 25, 2008

[Good News Bad News] Carbon Tax

Some semi-good news for once: The British Colombia government passed what in this day and age should be seen as very progressive legislation to combat carbon emissions. The main idea of it is this: start taxing carbon emissions - any fuel that pumps carbon into the atmosphere is going to be taxed at a rate of $10 for every tonne of CO2 that it puts into the atmosphere, starting this summer. That rate goes up $5 per year until it reaches $30 per tonne in 4 years. Although the revenue generated for the province is going to be massive and could be used to fund new green technology, research and infrastructure... the BC government is going to give tax cuts to its citizens to help compensate for the extra expense. I'm not sure what I think about this latter part of the deal. It has received criticism for particularly targeting average families instead of the big polluters - a criticism I agree with. However, such critics need to understand that lower income families usually consume less energy and hopefully won't be as hard hit as the typical upper middle class family who wastes tonnes (pun intended) on heating over-sized homes that are miles away from where they work. On the other hand, the whole idea is that the extra expense for using carbon is supposed to make using carbon less affordable, but if you're just putting the money back in people's pockets in the form of income redistribution then it sort of counteracts the purpose of a tax in the first place. Either way, it's a start, and only proves that we need to work on this much more. READ ABOUT THIS HERE.

In other news, Alberta's Tory government is still destroying our planet, despite a very strong letter it received recently (which was signed by a number of oil sands companies!) which asks the government to put a moratorium on granting access to mine for oil in the Fort Mac area. The letter's signatories (amongst whom surprisingly includes Petro Canada, Suncor & Shell Canada - along with the Pembina Institute and Environment Canada) are asking the provincial government to "freeze land lease licences until 2011 in three areas around Fort McMurray that have not yet been developed." Is that too much to ask? Consider how the mere extraction process up there already accounts for more than a third of the province's carbon emissions (and Alberta is already one of the most - if not the most - culpable CO2 emitters)! READ ABOUT THIS HERE.

Finally, in what is likely to become a news story of yet another example of our federal (Conservative) government ignoring good advice, the upcoming federal budget will likely not include a carbon tax, let alone a nationally sanctioned cap and trade system, despite a recent press conference by one of Canada's most renowned environmentalists - David Suzuki. Suzuki suggested that the time is nigh for the federal government to get green legislation down on paper. If only they could pass legislation similar to that in BC, Suzuki says that the Feds could earn up to an extra $100 billion by 2020, which could then be "used to lower personal income tax for Canadians [or]... be put into renewable energy, home energy efficiency improvements, and public transportation." Most likely, however, Suzuki's plea will fall on deaf ears. READ ABOUT THIS HERE.

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