BC’s Climate Leadership Plan

BC is quietly consulting the public on possible updates to its long-stalled Climate Leadership Plan. The deadline for submissions is Mar 25, so hurry up and tell them to increase the carbon tax! In all likelihood, the government will keep stalling until there is a federal framework in place for coordinated reductions. But technically we do have a provincial law obliging us to keep reducing our emissions (though it is basically impossible for us to hit our 2020 target at this point). You can make a submission here: Climate Action Leadership. Below is my submission.

I think the most important action we can take is to keep increasing the carbon tax every year until our emissions path is on track to meet our targets. The carbon tax does three things well: it incentivizes emissions reductions in all sectors of the economy; it harnesses the private knowledge of individual people and companies; and it discourages costly reduction plans in favour of cheap ones. The last point is important if we are to reduce emissions in the most economically efficient way possible.

Adding additional emissions regulations on top of a carbon tax is likely to make the overall plan more costly than it needs to be. This is because a carbon tax is the most efficient way to reduce emissions, by design. However, I would support changing building regulations, because buildings last a long time (so mistakes are costly) and the operating costs are often not considered by the builder.

If the carbon tax must be revenue neutral, I believe the best way to offset the revenue is to pay a dividend to every citizen. This would offset the increased costs imposed by the tax and reduce the disproportionate burden on low-income people. It would also be very visible, and less likely to be forgotten by the public, as was the reduction in corporate and income taxes with the initial carbon tax.

I would oppose subsidizing emissions-intensive trade-exposed sectors. One of the goals of our carbon policy is to shift BC towards the economy of the future. I believe encouraging exports for emission-intensive sectors moves us backward in this respect.

I believe BC has to stop its support for LNG and other carbon-intensive industries. This seems obvious if we are serious about reducing carbon emissions. Research shows that total emissions for LNG energy, including leakage and evaporation during transport, are not much better than for coal energy.

I would not like to see any particular subsidies for green jobs or the cleantech industry (despite being employed in that sector myself). Eliminating subsidies to carbon-intensive industries and raising the carbon tax should be enough to level the playing field and increase demand for cleantech services.

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