April 1, 2009

Carbon Tax, the only way to go

I take little comfort from a recent Edmonton Journal editorial on the environment (“Will tougher green laws be enforced," The Journal, March 7). While our government's new Environmental Enforcement Bill may bring miscreants to justice, the bill does nothing substantive about the most pressing environmental issue of our time: global warming.

Our government still refuses to accept 1990 as the benchmark year for assessing emission reduction; they continue to dress up their intensity-based targets as true emission targets; and they still refuse to do anything about informing the public on the severity of the issue.

Canada clearly has an obligation here. Examine the per capita amount of carbon that nations have emitted into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution began and you will find Canada ranked fourth.

When it comes to aggressive action on global warming there are really only two options: a carbon tax and cap and trade. Of the two, a carbon tax is the easiest to implement: tax the carbon at source, and to make the tax revenue neutral, issue a credit at tax time. The administrative measures are already in place.

A cap and trade, on the other hand, is much more difficult to implement. The mechanism is susceptible to political interference, manipulation, favouritism and corruption. Furthermore, its implementation would be handed over to investment speculators. Last year we saw quite clearly what the “invisible hand of the market” can do to our economy. Left to its own devices, the market will do much the same with a carbon trading market.

Clearly, when it comes to tackling global warming, a carbon tax is the only way to go.

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