Nobel Prize Winner supports a price on carbon. Ford doesn’t!

As one of his first steps after taking office, Premier Ford announced his intent to repeal the provisions of Cap and Trade, the vehicle for the reduction of GHG emissions in Ontario. This program had been in effect for almost two years, and was starting to show results.

Ford treated the vote in the Provincial Election as approval of repeal, ignoring the requirement of consultation with the Ontario electorate under the environmental bill of rights. After the government was sued by Greenpeace and Ecojustice they announced that the required consultation would be satisfied with a 30 day comment period on this web site.

Ford did not propose policy/legislation to replace Cap and Trade. Apparently his Government does not intend to reduce Ontario GHG emissions as required by the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change .  This Framework was accepted by all Provinces but one (Saskatchewan) as necessary to implement Canada’s commitment to the Paris Accord targets.

Premier Ford knew that elimination of Cap and Trade would lead to a Federal Tax on consumption of carbon in Ontario. So why did his Government abolish Cap and Trade if it had no replacement to offer?

Recently he has claimed that a tax on carbon “does nothing for the environment” and so would not be effective. He has not referred to any professional studies to support this claim.

Canadian studies have reached the opposite conclusion.  For example, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission recently stated:

“The evidence is clear: carbon pricing shifts us away from ‘business as usual,’ changing our emissions trajectory. And higher carbon prices drive deeper emissions reduction.”

It is not just the Ecofiscal Commission that disagrees with Ford. Shortly after the Ontario Government repealed cap and trade, the Nobel Prize for Economics was awarded to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer.  Nordhaus, a Yale Professor, has been a prominent advocate of the use of a uniformly applied carbon tax as the best way to put a true cost on the use of burning fossil fuels and so reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

So why is Premier Ford claiming that a tax on carbon is ineffective when this claim has been rejected by economists from around the world?  The answer:  domestic politics.

Ford is confident that anything that reduces taxes is a “vote getter”.  In the last election, the Ontario Conservatives received only 40.5 per cent of the votes.  Ford has chosen the “no carbon tax” mantra as a means to maintain and possibly increase his party’s popularity with voters.

Ford is a populist politician.  He agrees with Donald Trump who has rejected climate change and who has also stated that the US will withdraw from the Paris Accord.

Ford is in a dilemma. The Federal Liberal Government has signalled its intention to make climate change a key issue in the 2019 Federal Election.  Pressing for withdrawal from the Paris Accord will elevate the importance of the issue.

The alternative is to wait for the conclusion of the consultation process. The risk is that Ontario citizens may wake up and demonstrate in their answers that the issue of climate change  is important and requires action NOW!

We have only until October 11 to comment so while you are at your computer take a few minutes to Have Your Say on Cap and Trade cancellation.

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