Climate change can make for strange bedfellows and none more intriguing than the Mining Association of Canada’s mixing with the likes of Greenpeace, Climate Action Network and the David Suzuki Foundation.
With its call for a national climate change policy the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) has endorsed the idea of either a tax on carbon dioxide emissions or a cap-and-trade system, a position which has formed the mantra of environmentalists for at least a generation but has not gained much traction within Canada’s energy sector.
“One of Canada’s largest industries is coming out in support of a carbon price, identifying it as the most effective and efficient means of driving emissions reductions and making real progress in the global fight against climate change,” says Pierre Gratton, President and CEO of MAC.
The association represents the interests of most of the country’s largest miners, including Suncor Energy Inc. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC. MAC’s Principles for Climate Change Policy Design recommends establishing a broad-based carbon price applicable to all sectors of the Canadian economy along and it further supports a revenue neutral model, one that reinvests generated revenue into the development of green technologies, “to manage the transition to a lower carbon future, including climate adaptation, and to ensure a level playing field for trade-exposed industries that are emission intensive.”
MAC’s policy is noncommittal on whether to implement a carbon tax or a cap and trade system, much like the positions of many environmental groups. The David Suzuki Foundation says the actual design and implementation will be more indicative of success or failure than whether the adopted system is a tax or cap and trade.
“What’s important is that the price on carbon pollution provides an incentive for everyone, from industry to households, to be part of the solution. Ultimately, the critical factor in reducing heat-trapping emissions is the strength of the economic signal,” says the Foundation.
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Of course, not everyone is on board. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) has consistently taken a critical stance against carbon pricing, asserting that such a scheme will raise the price of all consumer goods and services, amount to a regressive form of taxation that will have a greater impact on the poor than the rich. Calling carbon pricing a “consensus of the elites,” CTF’s Ontario Director Candice Malcolm has contended that by endorsing carbon pricing the government of Ontario is creating contradictory policy, since it already supports the auto industry -whose products contribute to global warming- with grants and bailouts.
With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau currently at the United Nations in New York to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is hard-pressed to put together a national strategy on climate change, one that will most likely include a carbon pricing scheme. And with the four most populous provinces – Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia -already working with or about to implement some form of carbon pricing, McKenna feels that she will have the support of most of the provinces and their leaders –all except for Saskatchewan’s premier Brad Wall, however, who has stated that with the current slump in Canada’s energy sector, “the very last thing we need right now is a new tax.”