Harper Government In Stark Contrast To President Obama on Climate Policy

CCL on carbon fee and div


This exchange took place in the Canadian House of Commons yesterday:

Mr. Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay—Superior North, GP):
Mr. Speaker, two of Canada’s greatest challenges are rising CO2 and growing poverty. The Conservative government has not addressed either one.
Proposed by the Citizens Climate Lobby, carbon fee and dividend would address both by setting a fee on carbon to curb our petrol addictions and putting that money straight back into the pockets of each and every Canadian.

Will the Minister of Finance please consider carbon fee and dividend?

Mr. Colin Carrie (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to say that our approach is working. Thanks to our actions, carbon emissions will go down close to 130 megatonnes from what they would have been under the Liberals.
What does the other parties want? They want a $20-billion carbon tax. Let us look at what this would do to hard-working Canadian families. This would be a tax on electricity, transportation, heating for their homes, clothes, groceries, and the list goes on. Canadians do not want more taxes. They do not want a $20-billion carbon tax.

We are going to continue with our approach.

The Canadian federal government seems intent on maintaining the status quo, and claiming to take action on climate change with sector-by-sector regulation which doesn’t even apply to the oil and gas industry.

As a Canadian and a mother concerned about climate change, I don’t find your regurgitated talking points reassuring, Mr. Carrie.  Canada can do better.

inaction is expensive*

Here’s what President Obama said in an interview with Thomas Friedman on Showtime’s Years Of Living Dangerously segment that aired yesterday:

The way we’ve solved previous pollution problems like acid rain was we said, “we’re gonna charge you if you’re releasing this stuff into the atmosphere. We’re gonna let you figure it out, but we’re gonna to tell you that you can’t keep dumping it out in the atmosphere and making everybody else pay for it.” So if there is one thing I would like to see, it’d be for us to be able to price the cost of carbon emissions.

Here’s a clip of part of the interview:



Mr Carrie and his leader might want to pay attention to what the President of the United States of America says about climate change. Stephen Harper and his government have always linked Canada’s policy to that of the U.S. – at least as long as the U.S. wasn’t taking a leadership role. It seems the U.S. is changing its tune but Mr. Harper’s still singing from the old songbook.


image from I Heart Climate Scientists
image from I Heart Climate Scientists



‘Science Is Science’: Obama Embraces Price On Carbon, Leaving Fossil Fuels In The Ground

Canada “more frank” about climate change, Harper says

Hansard transcript from House of Commons, June 9, 2014

New US Economic Study Shows Carbon Tax Refunded to Households Would Create Jobs

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As recent reports on the impact of climate change underscore the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a new study finds that a tax on carbon can reduce those emissions while also adding jobs to the economy.

The study, conducted by Regional Economic Models, Inc., examined a tax on the carbon-dioxide content of fossil fuels. The tax would start at $10 per ton, increasing at $10 per ton each year. Revenue from the tax would be returned to households in equal shares as direct payments. Under this approach, the REMI study found that recycling the revenue back into the economy would add 2.1 million jobs over ten years. Improvements in air quality would save 13,000 lives a year. Emissions would decline by 33 percent.

“Detractors have said that a carbon tax will kill jobs,” said Mark Reynolds, executive director of Citizens Climate Lobby, which commissioned the study. “The REMI study turns that assumption on its head.”

Last month, the National Climate Assessment reported that the impact of climate change is already being felt across the nation in the form of severe drought, rising sea levels, extreme weather, wildfires and heat waves. To reduce future risk from climate change, the Obama administration last week unveiled new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency limiting carbon emissions from power plants.

“If Republicans don’t want more EPA regulations, their best recourse is to deliver a revenue-neutral carbon tax, which is supported by conservatives from George Shultz to Greg Mankiw,” said Reynolds. “With the REMI study showing a carbon tax that returns revenue to households will add millions of jobs, this is the option everyone can embrace.”

NAFTA provisions keep the American and Canadian energy economies closely intertwined.  The National Manager of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby in Canada remarked, “It just takes one country to take the lead on carbon pricing and we can turn the page.”

MP Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay – Superior North) is championing a revenue neutral carbon tax that refunds households, called carbon fee and dividend. On May 26, in the House of Commons, MP Hyer said this, “Carbon fee and dividend almost does it all. It prices carbon fairly and scientifically, uses only free market forces to foster CO2 reductions, costs virtually nothing to administer, benefits lower income Canadians and, what should appeal to that side, no money goes to the government at all.”

Since 1980, Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) has provided economic impact studies for governmental and private-sector clients including the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), consulting firms Booz Allen Hamilton and Ernst & Young, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

Click here for a copy of the REMI study.

Click here for a 3-page summary of report from CCL Legislative Director Danny Richter

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http://www.citizensclimatelobby.ca/ (Canada)
http://www.citizensclimatelobby.org (US)

Climate Accountability Act Needs Support From Politicians With Vision

In the local news today, our neighbours to the south in Grand Forks, North Dakota are making headlines again as they prepare for the crest of the Red River in their community, the second year in a row that they have been forced to sandbag and build dikes in preparation for the spring flood.  In Winnipeg, the residents are much more relaxed, confident in the ability of “Duff’s Ditch”, the Winnipeg floodway, to protect them from the Red’s rising waters. The Red River Floodway is a permanent 300-metre-wide ditch built to re-route water from the Red River south of Winnipeg, carry it along the east side of the city and then dump it back into the Red just north of city limits.

Duff Roblin, Progressive Conservative Premier of Manitoba from 1958 to 1967,  put his reputation on the line when he championed this floodway. It was originally dubbed “Duff’s Folly” by opponents,  who denounced it as a monumental, potentially ruinous, waste of money (sound familiar?).  The floodway project was huge in scope – worldwide, only the Panama Canal was larger in terms of earth-moving projects. The $63-million price tag was also huge.  But Duff Roblin persisted, and the floodway was completed, on budget, by 1968.  It has since protected the city 20 times, most notably during the so-called “Flood of the Century” in 1997 that turned southern part of the province into a 2,000 square kilometre lake and swamped Grand Forks.  Duff Roblin is now recognized as a visionary, vindicated by history, as this excerpt from an interview with professor of political science, and long-time Winnipeger, Paul Thomas demonstrates:

For some, Roblin’s determination is a lost art in a world where political policy is often shaped by opinion polls.

“He wouldn’t make policy just on the basis of some philosophical orientation or the pressures of public opinion,” Thomas said. “He was far more interested in the evidence … and what was feasible.”

Where is the “Duff Roblin” of climate change in Canadian politics today?  It seems that many of our politicians are too fond of public opinion polls or tied to their own philosophical orientation to look clearly at what the science – and economics – tell us is achievable.  Those that do listen will find themselves being hailed by future generations as visionaries, and their achievements will be celebrated long after they themselves are no longer in office.

MP Bruce Hyer may be one of those politicians following in Roblin’s footsteps.  The NDP Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North introduced Bill C311, the Climate Accountability Act, to the House Commons.  It has passed two votes, supported by the Bloc Quebecois and a handful of Liberal MPs.  It is currently making its way through the house for the third and final vote.  For it to become law, it needs to be supported by the Liberals as well as the Bloc and NDP.  “Starving for Change” states:

Canada has an opportunity to take a historic leadership role in solving climate change. Bill C-311 is also known as the Climate Change Accountability Act. There is a huge difference between Stephen Harper’s made in USA, weak, greenhouse gas targets and the ambitious targets in Bill C-311. If we want to avoid a more than two degree increase in temperature, a climate change tipping point, then our M.P.s must vote for this historic Bill. That’s why I, Dante Ryel, have been participating in a water-only fast from March 3rd, the Day parliament resumed, until I can be assured that Bill C-311 will become law.

The NDP introduced Bill C-311 and the Bloc Quebecois will support it. We must pressure the leaders of the Liberal and Conservative parties to vote yes on Bill C-311. In fact, all we need is Liberal support! However, the Liberals have made no commitment and many people are scared that some in the party will vote no. We need to pressure them. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have consistently voted against Bill C-311, and have prevented any meaningful progress on climate change, but we should still ask them for their support. You never know. The duration of my fast will be determined by the Liberals and/or the Conservatives because neither party has made a commitment to the bill.

We are so close to making history but we must make sure our politicians do the right thing!

Click here to send off an email to each federal party:

In about a minute you could help change the world, all with the click of a mouse! Or phone your Member of Parliament.  If you like, you could record yourself doing it, and post the video on YouTube.

Consider sending Bruce Hyer an email of support at:  info@brucehyer.ca, or phone him at 807-345-1818. A tangible way to support the Climate Accountability Act – and Mr. Hyer – is to make a financial donation to Mr. Hyer. Go to this link for more information on how to do that – and remember, because of tax deductions, a $100 donation actually ends up costing you only $25.  And if you aren’t comfortable supporting Mr. Hyer, but are opposed to Mr. Harper’s Climate-Change-Denying Conservatives, consider donating to either the Liberals or Greens as a tangible way of showing your displeasure.

Whatever you do, don’t delay.  Get the message out now that you support the Canadian Climate Accountability Act – it is set to be voted on in the House of Commons in April.

Here is Dante Ryel, who has been fasting for 2 weeks to raise the awareness of Bill C311, explaining the bill, and its importance:


Also, if you are interested in the connection between the recent increase in the number of Red River floods and climate change, go to Climate Progress’s post, Why the “never seen before” Fargo flooding is just what you’d expect from climate change.