B.C. carbon tax gets international attention

Premier Christy Clark invited to World Bank meeting where finance ministers seek strategies for Paris climate talks

Premier Christy Clark

Premier Christy Clark met Friday with the finance ministers of China, India, the U.S. and other G20 countries to tell them about the success of B.C.’s carbon tax on fuels.

Clark said in a phone interview from Washington D.C. she was invited there by the World Bank, whose president Jim Yong Kim co-chaired the meeting along with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Countries around the world are looking for greenhouse gas reduction strategies before the next UN climate conference in Paris next December, and Clark said there was keen interest in B.C.’s experience.

B.C.’s carbon tax was introduced in 2008, and is currently set at $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions. That translates to about seven cents a litre on gasoline and similar taxes on coal, natural gas and other fuels.

“We’ve created one of the broadest-based carbon taxes in the world and used 100 per cent of the tax to reduce corporate, small business, and individual income taxes, and that’s resulted in robust economic growth compared to the rest of the country,” Clark said.

Clark put a five-year freeze on the carbon tax after winning the B.C. Liberal leadership, and the government has wound up its carbon offset purchasing office and withdrawn from a group of U.S. states working on a regional carbon trading plan.

Clark said B.C. will soon appoint a panel of “thought leaders” to see where the province can make further gains in greenhouse gas reduction. One of those leaders who is unlikely to be included is Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver, who has criticized Clark for reversing climate policy progress made under former premier Gordon Campbell.

Weaver and NDP leader John Horgan say the province’s decision to ease emissions rules for liquefied natural gas production is a big step backward.

The Green Party has campaigned to increase the carbon tax to $50 a tonne immediately, and keep raising it to promote alternatives to carbon fuels. The NDP has called for carbon tax revenues to be directed to transit and building improvements instead of returning it as tax cuts.

 

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