Monday, February 16, 2009

Will the Carbon Tax Survive?

Few other governments in North America are as serious about climate change as the BC Liberal government here in Victoria. BC introduced the first real carbon tax in North America last year, but the opposition to the tax is rising all the time.

Currently the BC tax places a $10 a tonne charge on carbon, this will rise to $30 by 2010. Not dramatically high, but certainly a lot more than what is being charged elsewhere. The tax was also a huge political risk, any sort of taxation that makes it more expensive for people to drive their cars is risking serious political damage.

So how does the the NDP respond, with outright opposition to the idea. The NDP approach to climate change issues is to avoid taking action and avoid supporting ideas that will have real impacts to behaviours now. The NDP is trying to get all the browns to back them.

Meanwhile a large segment of the environmental community will not come out and back the government that is the leader on the issue but instead say it is too little, that the government does not really mean it, that other actions of the government negate and climate change actions and more.

For people that believe climate change is an important issue, there really is only one choice - a strong endorsement of Gordon Campbell and the current government. If the Liberals do not go up in the vote and number of seats in this election, and the NDP continues to campaign against climate change, the odds are that the government will see this as a public rejection of action on climate change.

The NDP winning in BC in May means that no politician in Canada will take any substantive action on climate change for the next decade. The defeat of Campbell after Dion lost federally will mean that action on climate change will be toxic as a policy.

It is now time for the environmental movement in BC to come out and say they are voting for Gordon Campbell and the Liberals because they support real action on climate change. If this does not happen, it says to me that the environmental movement is more ideological than interested in positive changes. It also means that the centre and centre right know that there is simply nothing they could ever say or do that will stop criticism from the environmental movement. If that happens, the environmental movement will lose any power to get government to listen.

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