Let’s start with the good news. The national debate over global warming has largely moved on from arguing over whether anything should be done to reduce carbon emissions, to debating how best to do it. This is progress.
More good news: Ottawa and provincial governments covering the bulk of the Canadian population – British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, Ontario – all agree with the idea of putting a price on carbon, as a way of discouraging the burning of fossil fuels. Making it more expensive to use carbon is the easiest and most efficient way to begin to lower greenhouse-gas emissions.
And now, on to the less positive news. Last Tuesday, Ontario released its “Five Year Climate Change Action Plan.” The Liberal government of Premier Kathleen Wynne could have simply brought in a carbon price and stopped there. The principle of taxing carbon has all-party support, from the Leap Manifesto wing of the NDP to Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown.
And the province is introducing a cap-and-trade plan, essentially a more complicated version of a carbon tax, which will be linked up with cap-and-trade schemes already in operation in California and Quebec. There are questions about how well Ontario’s scheme is going to work, and there should be. But cap-and-trade, if properly designed, is capable of lowering greenhouse-gas emissions without bankrupting voters, driving out industry or wasting one of society’s most precious non-renewable resources: the taxpayers’ money.
All of which means Ms. Wynne and Environment Minister Glen Murray could have made carbon pricing the centrepiece of their greenhouse-gas strategy. They could have laid out a roadmap for gradually lowering the province’s greenhouse-gas emissions by gradually raising the carbon price.
For the rest of this editorial, click here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/ontario-is-fighting-climate-change-the-wrong-way/article30399356/