Businesses Call On BC Government To Increase Carbon Tax

By Roy L Hales

Normally, businesses do not petition government for higher taxes. Nor do they usually insist this would be good for the economy. However the tax credit is a central pillar of the 32 recommendations put forward by the province’s Climate Leadership Team. If the province follows their plan, they predict the GDP will grow by about 2.1% per year.  Now, in an open letter, 138 businesses call upon BC government to increase carbon tax.

Businesses Call On BC Government To Increase Carbon Tax

“On a macrolevel, we know from the first stage of the carbon tax (2008-2012) there was a modest environmental benefit with carbon going down a little bit. At the same time B.C.’s economy outperformed the rest of the country. I don’t think you could attribute that benefit to the carbon tax, but there also didn’t seem to be a negative economic impact from the carbon tax,” said Matt Horne, of the Pembina Institute.

“The other piece is more on a microlevel. If you look at the signatories on that letter there is lots of clean energy and clean technology businesses, many of which have different types of solutions – whether its more efficient homes,  renewable energy production or different transportation services. They all want to provide those solutions both in BC and around the world. The better climate policy we have, the more opportunity to sell those solutions.”

In their joint letter, these businesses state that “one-third of B.C.’s carbon pollution is under the direct control of the province’s 170,000 small and medium-sized businesses, which employ more than one million people.” They are a key market for improving energy efficiency in buildings, drive cleaner vehicles and reducing waste. Linking a tax credit to the carbon tax would encourage these businesses “to accelerate investment in solutions like training, technology, retrofitting and improved processes.”

Matt Horne, B.C. associate regional director for the Pembina Institute, speaks at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel in Vancouver, B.C. December 11, 2015. Photo: Stephen Hui, Pembina Institute.

“You would not want a climate plan in any jurisdiction that relies entirely on a carbon tax. I don’t think you would have business or public support for just a pure market based approach. So it’s going to be combined with other policies, like regulations, incentives. Al l those pieces have to fist together to make a comprehensive plan for people to buy in and move the province in the right direction,” said Horne.

A Ministry of the Environment spokesperson responded to the letter:

Building on our global climate leadership, B.C. is developing a new Climate Leadership Plan to move our climate agenda forward.
Our new plan is being assembled with the advice of the Climate Leadership Team and through public consultation.

During the current public engagement we have received over one-thousand submissions, including the letter signed by the 138 businesses in support of the CLT recommendation to increase the carbon tax.
We thank everyone who has taken time to provide input, and encourage others to provide their feedback before the engagement period wraps up April 8th.

All feedback received will be considered as we develop B.C.’s new plan to lower greenhouse gas emissions while growing our economy.

The Climate Leadership Plan will be released spring 2016.

“I wouldn’t have expected much more right off the bat. It is accurate to say that the letter from the businesses is closely aligned with the carbon tax recommendations put forward by the Climate Leadership team. Another group, called the energy forum, also supported those recommendations. The mayors climate leadership council is another group that supported them, so there is a lot of support for that package of recommendations, forming the blueprint for the province’s plan. ” said Horne.

He added, “To date, they haven’t given an indication where they are going. So I would encourage them to adopt that set of recommendations as their next step.”

(There is much more in the podcast )

Top Photo Credit: The Legislative Building Victoria, BC. by Christina via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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