Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Canada Needs Carbon Pricing but Harper Says No

Canada needs a carbon pricing scheme to reduce its climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions and help renewable energy to grow. However, the ruling federal Conservatives are strong allies of the fossil fuel industry and they are staunchly opposed to putting a price on carbon.

As reported in the Globe and Mail, a recently released policy document supports carbon pricing in Canada.  The report by scientists, engineers and economists claims that this would enable the nation to wean itself off of fossil fuels and get all of its electricity from renewables by 2035. Most importantly it would substantially reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. The report's authors said that the most significant barrier is not technical or economic, but a lack of political will from the federal government.

Significant efforts must be made if Canada is to be among the signatories at the forthcoming climate agreement expected at the end of the year. The Harper government had previously agreed to a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels for the period after 2020. However, Environment Canada says that in the absence of aggressive new measures the target will be missed by a wide margin.

British Columbia is already a part of the Western Climate Initiative. With Ontario's new cap-and-trade agreement with Quebec, more than 80 percent of Canada’s economy is already involved in carbon pricing schemes.

The Conservatives are alone among federal parties in their opposition to carbon pricing. The New Democrats support national cap-and-trade, while the Liberals want carbon pricing with national standards that would be administered by the provinces.

“We’ve been talking about the volatility of oil for a long time, and highlighting the risks of a heavy economic reliance on oil and gas,” Keith Brooks, director of the clean energy program at Toronto-based Environmental Defence, told ThinkProgress. “It’s time for Canada to get off the boom and bust roller coaster and move toward a clean economy, which is clearly where the future lies. Carbon pricing will help us get there.”

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