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Published: Thursday 15 August, 2013

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Last year Canada pumped a massive 23 tonnes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air for every man, woman and child in the country. With the continued buildup of those gases in the atmosphere, the planet is becoming steadily warmer. Scientists canada goose clothing uk say that if Canada and other countries fail to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions significantly over the next 40 years, rising temperatures could dramatically affect life as we know it on this planet.

In response to this crisis to date, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has had little to offer Canadians but spin.

Into this policy vacuum yesterday strode Liberal Leader St Dion with a substantive plan for Canada to do its part to fight global warming. By imposing a hefty tax on the carbonbased fuels that consumers and businesses burn, Dion would rely on the price mechanism to encourage people to conserve or switch to more environmentally friendly sources of energy.

Dions carbon tax would start out at $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide and rise steadily over four years to $40 canada goose clothing uk per tonne. Because the existing 10centperlitre federal excise tax on gasoline is already equivalent to $42 per tonne of emissions, gasoline would bear no additional tax. But over four years Dions tax would boost the prices for home heating oil, natural gas, coal, diesel and aviation fuel. The extra cost to Canadians would reach $15.3 billion by the fourth year.

But under Dions plan, all that money would be given back to consumers and businesses in the form of income tax cuts. With that shift in taxes from income to carbon, Canadians who make reasonable strides in reducing their reliance on fossil fuels would find themselves no worse off; those making a significant effort would end up with more mon canada goose clothing uk ey to spend on other things. And Canadians who make little effort to cut their emissions would end up paying a stiff price.

That rewardpenalty system would give Canadians a big incentive to do things like retrofitting their homes and turning their thermostats down in winter and up a few degrees in the hot summer months.

Not everyone, of course, has the same degree of flexibility or the means to respond to the price tax signals Dion is proposing. Lowincome Canadians have far less freedom than the wealthy to replace refrigerators, dryers and other home appliances with new, energysaving models. Rural Canadians do not have the same choice in switching from their cars to public transit as bigcity dwellers.

In recognition of such differences, Dion is proposing income tax cuts that are highly progressive as well as richer tax credits for families with children, the disabled, seniors, the working poor and people living in rural areas and remote northern communities. Through this combination of environmentalism, economics and progressive social policy, Dions plan would give a family with two children and an income of $20,000 an extra $2,400, or roughly 80 per cent more than a similar family earning $100,000 a year.

While its easy to endorse the tax shift Dion has proposed for people, we have one major concern over his approach to the business sector.

Dion says a Liberal government would protect Canadian businesses that face import competition by imposing a carbon content tariff on goods from countries that do not price carbon. But he has yet to show how he can do this under international trade laws. Worse, he gives no comparable protection to Canadian manufacturers. Instead, he implies that the $3.8 billion in tax savings that Canadian companies would realize by the fourth year of his plan should be sufficient to enable them to compete in foreign markets in which carbon is not priced. canada goose clothing uk