Thursday, September 11, 2008

Federal election - Sierra Club Voters Guide

With the federal election entering the end of the first week, many people will be thinking about environmental policies and solutions for global warming. The Sierra Club has issued a Voters Guide and report card for each of the major political parties. Here are their initial scores (from best to worst):

Green Party - A-
Liberal Party - B+
New Democratic Party - B
Bloc Quebecois - B
Conservative Party - F+

In terms of pricing carbon, here's what the Sierra Club has to say,

Under the current economic system, the negative effects of greenhouse gas emissions are not borne by the polluter, but by all Canadians and the world at large through long-term changes in global climate. As a result, the market is distorted; the prices of goods and services do not reflect their true value to society, today and in the future. The solution is to put a price on carbon. Carbon pricing embodies the ‘polluter pays principle’: “the polluter should bear the costs of activities that directly or indirectly damage the environment.” The atmosphere’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide – without causing harmful climate change – is a finite and (globally) shared resource that must be regulated.

When comparing the two forms of carbon pricing, a carbon tax system and a cap and trade system, we should not see them as mutually exclusive options. One could adopt a ‘hybrid’ approach: implement a carbon tax immediately and a cap and trade system within a few years. Because Canada has delayed action until now, it is critical that the government does not wait the two to three years that it would take to set-up a cap and trade system in order to put a price on carbon, as the urgency of the climate crisis requires that we reduce our emissions as soon as possible.
Karen Hawley, NUPGE's environmental point person, will be posting up to date information on environmental issues related to the election on the NUPGE website.

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