It's been three years since Citizens' Climate Lobby Halifax has been working to create a more livable world by communicating the need for a fair way to price carbon to politicans and other community leaders. We've met and written to MPs, MLAs, ministers, direcotrs of departments, policy directors, business, senior, womens', poverty and church organizations. Most recently, Citizens' Climate Lobby Halifax member, David Henry wrote a great op ed on carbon pricing in the Chronicle Herald and we got a picture of our rally included in it from three years ago. If you click on the link, you will see the photo. I like the perspective of the non-human symbol upfront and the people as smaller species in the background. Scroll down below the pictures to read David's opinion editorial.
FROM THE CHRONICLE HERALD JUNE 20, 2015
What is carbon pricing and why is it needed? How would it work and would it operate openly? Would it generate revenue and, if so, how would that revenue be used? What would be its costs and who would pay them? What would it mean for the future of Nova Scotia as a place to live, work, and thrive?
The air is filled with such questions these days. The Broten Report, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, the news from British Columbia and Ontario, and frequent Herald articles and opinions tout the benefits of carbon pricing or warn of its pitfalls. So where do things stand in Nova Scotia? Here, I believe:
1: Our province faces two core challenges — a changing climate and an economy at a crossroads — which are intimately connected. Our future depends to a large degree on recognizing and acting on that connection.
2: Carbon pricing, by assessing and assigning the financial cost of greenhouse gas emissions, offers a flexible, market-based approach to slowing climate change that can also help renew our economy.
3: There are three leading methods: carbon tax, cap and trade, and carbon fee and dividend. If well designed, any of them can potentially be effective, but each brings distinct advantages and disadvantages.
4: The timing is perfect for a public conversation about what carbon pricing can achieve and what method is likely to be the best fit for our province. The current government can lead the way by studying the options openly and comprehensively.
Why “best fit for our province?” Because what works in Ontario or B.C. may not work well here. Why “openly?” Because, as recent experience teaches, there is much less chance of acceptance otherwise. Why “comprehensively?” Because people want to understand the challenges and choices that will frame our shared future.
A recent Chronicle Herald editorial said it well: “Nova Scotians need a clear-eyed view of all the impacts before embarking on any option.” Those impacts will be many and wide-ranging — connecting issues we all care about, like fairness for the financially vulnerable, sustainable business and employment growth, a healthy and beautiful living environment and, of course, maximal emissions reduction at minimal cost.
For all these reasons, this perspective will be followed by a formal request to the government that it launch the public conversation by commissioning a study of carbon pricing options and impacts. The following criteria will be offered for inclusion:
Effectiveness: Will it reduce carbon emissions meaningfully, reliably and with increasing effectiveness over time? Will it provide clear, predictable carbon price signals to businesses and consumers?
Quality of life: Will it promote longer, healthier lives for people?
Will it improve household and small business bottom lines over time?
Can its revenue readily be rebated to consumers, used to reduce existing taxes, or directed toward financially vulnerable groups?
Will it preserve the natural environment that is so important to our quality of life?
Economics: Will it stimulate business and employment growth?
Will it promote the ongoing transition to a sustainable, forward-looking economy?
Will it improve GDP over time, especially as compared with projections not including carbon pricing?
Will it promote debt repayment, balanced budgets, or other improvements in the province’s fiscal health?
Cost, efficiency and transparency: Can it be implemented rapidly, at minimal cost, and with little additional bureaucracy?
Will it be simple and inexpensive to administer, track, and evaluate?
Will it be readily understandable and open to view by stakeholders, including the public?
I’m confident that Nova Scotians can and will do what’s needed — join the conversation, learn about the issues and contribute to the decisions that will determine our future. All we need are an invitation to participate and sound information on which to base our input. Providing these is not only the government’s responsibility; it is an opportunity to show bold, progressive leadership on the twin challenges of our age.
It is time to study carbon pricing for Nova Scotia.
David Henry is a member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby in Halifax.
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