Opinion Letters

Columnist missed advantages: LETTER

(Re: 'Right-wing reaction to carbon pricing a head shaker' in the Oct. 13 edition of the Examiner)

My friend Erich Jacoby-Hawkins’ column missed some important advantages of a carbon tax.

First of all, a carbon tax rewards people and industries who choose to use less energy; cap and trade only rewards the latter, and then only if they are participants in any agreements a government has devised.

Since we – Canadian citizens – are responsible for more carbon emissions than industry, not involving us is short-sighted.

Cap and trade is opaque and hard to understand. It imposes costs on industry. Because it is opaque, it is hard – perhaps impossible – to compensate participating companies who export goods. In fact, I see companies sending manufacturing offshore to jurisdictions not burdened by cap-and-trade schemes.

On the other hand, simplicity and transparency makes a carbon tax simple to refund when goods or services are exported. Moreover, if we impose a carbon tax on ourselves, we must also apply it to imports, and the fuel used to bring them to market to level the playing field. Environmentally, this might encourage manufacturers abroad to clean up their act.

Canada’s electricity is very low carbon in comparison to our competitors. Around 65% is hydroelectricity. You may disapprove of nuclear as I do, but it is carbon-free and provides 15% of Canada’s power. So more than 80% of our electricity is carbon-free.

By contrast, 40% of American electricity is produced by coal and 25% comes from natural gas. China gets 75% of its electricity from coal. Mexico, our NAFTA partner, also gets 75% of its electricity from fossil fuels.

In a future world with high carbon taxes everywhere, Canada would be singularly advantaged. Canada’s low-carbon electricity would help us retain industry and even attract more.

For this reason, I wonder that the Conservative party opposes it.

I am also disappointed that the Liberals have been so timid.

Peter Bursztyn


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