Let’s talk about putting a price on carbon

Let's talk about putting a price on carbon Re: Pasloski blasts Trudeau's climate change commitment (the News, Feb. 13) Both the Yukon premier and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau should think more deeply about climate change and what needs to be done about

Re: Pasloski blasts Trudeau’s climate change commitment (the News, Feb. 13)

Both the Yukon premier and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau should think more deeply about climate change and what needs to be done about it.

Climate change today can be compared to the ozone layer problem of 25 years ago. Something had to be done to protect the Earth, so governments and industry got together and signed the Montreal Protocol to quickly phase out ozone-destroying CFCs. Mission accomplished.

Climate change is today’s planet-threatening problem. Governments and industry are working together, conference after conference – most recently in Peru last summer – to try to agree on action. Progress is being made; a broad consensus has developed that climate change is real, that humans are causing it, and that action must be taken to avert disaster.

A carbon levy is the way to go, but should it be paid by consumers as an additional tax at time of purchase like the carbon tax in B.C., or should it be paid by extraction companies?

I think the best way is to apply a stiff fee at the source, at the point when oil, coal, and natural gas comes out of the ground, in order to also include an incentive for extraction and delivery companies to improve efficiency – not just consumers.

And in order not to reduce the economic viability of companies, the levy shouldn’t touch the extraction company’s normal operating profit, but instead collect the super profits or “unearned income” that resource companies presently pocket. (That’s everything above about $40 per barrel for conventional oil.)

A second question is, should the revenue from the fee be used to lower general taxes, like B.C., or should we use a fee-and-dividend system, like Quebec and California, where each citizen receives a cheque for their share?

Our American neighbour has been doing the latter for years. The Alaska Permanent Fund collects a royalty on the oil extracted, invests the money and sends every Alaskan an annual dividend cheque between $1,000 to $2,000.

Perhaps a referendum should be held asking if Canadians would like direct payments of their share of the revenue from non-renewable resources (a citizen’s dividend), or should the money be invested in conservation or renewable energy, such as wind farms, solar collectors and slow-turbine run-of-river hydroelectric projects?

It’s not too late for Canada to follow the lead of Norway, which collects all oil revenue above company operating profits, and now has an $800 billion fund for use in difficult economic times – while Canada is deeply in debt.

An excellent first step would be for the Harper government to eliminate the annual $1.3 billion in tax breaks to the oil and gas industry. Ending these subsidies would help level the playing field between fossil fuels and renewables.

Frank de Jong

Yukon Green Party candidate


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