Metro covers our the launch of Better Future BC, a coalition we spearheaded to build support for climate and energy leadership. Here’s a copy of the original article by reporter Kate Webb:
Three prominent environmental watchdogs launched a campaign Thursday calling on B.C.’s political parties to abandon the revenue neutrality of the carbon tax and put the proceeds into energy-saving measures, such as public transit.
The proposal for a Better Future Fund envisions the carbon tax being ratcheted up from the current $30 per tonne to $50 by 2016, which they say could generate between $800 million and $1 billion in new revenue each year. That would add slightly more than one cent to the price of a litre of gas at the pump.
Proponents the David Suzuki Foundation, Pembina Institute and Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada noted polling shows two-thirds of British Columbians support the carbon tax, and in places like Norway it is as high as $71 per tonne.
“Carbon pricing in British Columbia has really proven successful,” said Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada.
“Our emissions are going down, and as we all know, the economy here is doing well, so we can show that it’s working both environmentally and economically in B.C.”
The coalition contends that natural gas and some other industries are getting a “free ride” because when the tax was introduced in 2007 the technology did not exist to measure emissions that were not from burning fossil fuels, which it now does.
In addition to raising the tax, they want to see it expanded to apply to the venting emissions that come from oil and natural gas, aluminum, cement, mineral and lime production.
Environment Minister Terry Lake said he agrees in principle that the carbon tax should continue to rise, but that the Better Future Fund proposal amounts to a tax increase that voters don’t want.
“I don’t think our economy is in the type of position where people would be willing to have such a large tax increase, and that’s not what we’re about at the moment,” he said.
“When things change, when the economy has picked up, then we can consider at some point making that next step and thinking about how to use those additional revenues, but at a time when people are concerned about supporting their families, to talk about a tax increase is the wrong thing to do.”
NDP Environment Critic Rob Fleming could not say whether the NDP would support increasing the carbon tax before its election platform is released in April, but did say he supports making the tax revenue positive by eliminating some of the corporate tax cuts the Liberals brought in.
He said the party is generally on the same page as the coalition in that it wants to invest some of the proceeds of the tax in green building retrofits and public transit.
The plan was presented to all four parties, all of which responded except the Conservatives.