Kinsman: Should the Canadian government put a price on carbon?

By: /
14 October, 2012
Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

As public policy, carbon pricing is desirable. Out here in BC, there has been a successful carbon tax for several years – successful, in that BC has the lowest per capita carbon consumption in the country, as David Runnalls points out in his CIC website commentary. Ultimately, a cap and trade market for carbon will be comprehensively more effective than a straight tax. But it would be a major undertaking to get it right on a national level. On January 1, California will introduce North America’s first such system and policy-makers should watch it closely.

Beyond the long-term costs to us of inadequate national policy, we pay an even bigger price over the unwillingness of the Canadian industry to show it takes the climate change issue seriously, their focus being on getting on NGO enemies’ lists and delusional alliances with climate change skeptics in the U.S. Congress. Without evidence of serious public/private investments in mitigation of oil sands carbon emissions, the Canadian image will darken and with it, prospects for what should be a decisive Canadian international
competitive edge.