Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Canadian scientists and economists plead with voters

A group of top climate and environmental scientists from across Canada have released a letter stating that "climate change is the defining issue of our time" and urging voters to "vote strategically for the environment" in Tuesday's election. That means vote for a party advocating a price on carbon. [Update: the Pembina Institute has a great analysis of the parties' carbon pricing policies]

It is a strong, clear statement. I can add only one thing: A vote for carbon pricing and action on climate change is not just a vote for the environment. It is a vote for the economy of the future.

And it is not just scientists. A group of top Canadian economists have released a very similar letter. The economists agreed on key principles:

  1. Canada needs to act on climate change now.
  2. Any substantive action will involve economic costs.
  3. These economic impacts cannot be an excuse for inaction.
  4. Pricing carbon is the best approach from an economic perspective.
    1. Pricing allows each business and family to choose the response that is best and most efficient for them.
    2. Pricing induces innovation.
    3. Carbon is almost certainly under-priced right now.
  5. Regulation is the most expensive way to meet a given climate change goal.
  6. A carbon tax has the advantage of providing certainty in the price of carbon.
  7. A cap and trade system provides certainty on the quantity of carbon emitted, but not on the price of carbon and can be a highly complex policy to implement.
  8. Although carbon taxes have the most obvious effects on consumers, all carbon reduction policies increase the prices individuals face.
  9. Price mechanisms can be regressive and our policy should address this.
  10. A pricing mechanism can allow other taxes to be reduced and provide an opportunity to improve the tax system.

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