The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change could not be clearer or more emphatic. The imperative to act now on climate change has never been more indisputable. Our world is already seeing the disastrous effects of climate change, and things will get much, much worse in years to come if we do not swiftly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are radically altering the Earth’s ecosystems and threatening global security.
The Imperative to Act Now on Climate Change
From the IPCC report:
“Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger.”
“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” said Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel, at a news conference releasing the IPCC report.
The report makes it clear, that no one is safe, yet it’s not hopeless. The only option is to cut emissions.
With the world’s leading experts giving their most dire warning yet on the impact of climate change, it’s time for Canada to move at unprecedented speed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, starting with a revenue-neutral carbon tax.
The most transparent carbon pricing instrument is the Carbon Fee and Dividend. The carbon fee is a straightforward fee. It is easily explainable and understandable. It requires no time to set up; it’s easy to monitor and it requires no additional bureaucracy.
The federal government would charge a Carbon Fee on fossil fuels where they first enter the economy as a way to stimulate the transition away from fossil fuel dependence and towards clean energy alternatives. A direct and steadily-increasing carbon fee will accelerate this transition by erasing fossil fuels’ artificial price advantage over energy efficiency and low-carbon energy.
Detractors who argue against a carbon tax say it will kill jobs, drag down the economy and burden families with higher energy bills. But a well-designed carbon tax that recycles revenue back to households and into the economy would protect families from rising costs and actually add jobs. A recent study by Regional Economic Models Inc. found that a carbon tax in California, even at very high levels, would increase GDP and add hundreds of thousands of jobs, provided the revenue is returned to the public, either as tax cuts or direct payments.
We have proof right here in Canada that a revenue-neutral carbon levy can cut emissions and create jobs. A study released by Analytica Advisors in early March 2014 found that between 2008, when British Columbia legislated a revenue neutral carbon tax, and 2010, the province’s clean technology sector grew by 48 per cent. British Columbians emitted 9.9% less greenhouse gases in 2010 than when the tax started, compared with 5% fewer emissions for the rest of Canada. BC’s GDP growth actually outpaced the rest of Canada’s after the tax was imposed. This is in line with evidence from seven other countries with similar policies that have had neutral or slightly positive effects on GDP.
While so much attention is focused on the growth of Canada’s fossil fuel industry, clean technology companies struggle to access capital and markets. Canada is at a crossroads. Should we invest in dirty oil and pipelines, committing our country to a high-carbon future? Or should we focus on doing what is best for future generations of Canadians – the transformation to clean-tech economic growth providing both jobs and a healthier environment for Canadians.
The climate change crisis confronting the world is unparalleled. Never before has humanity faced such a daunting challenge. The future of everything we have accomplished depends on the wisdom of our actions over the next few years.
And We Must Start Now.
Rolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s also a Climate Reality leader (Climate Reality Leadership Corps), a blogger, an activist and a Climate Change presenter. He has been a contributor to the Climate Change Guide, The Canadian, ClimateMama, World Daily, Georgian Bay News, The Elephant, and CounterCurrents.