Recently in British Columbia there was a perfect example of why, when I find myself in the voting booth, I vote green. I do this even where there are more “mainstream” parties saying all the right things regarding climate change. I do this because I know that in order to reduce GHG emissions governments are going to have to make difficult choices, and I don’t think any government except for the Green Party will be able to make the difficult decisions.
BC has had a carbon tax for more than a decade. It has helped BC reduce emissions and has not had a negative impact on the economy.
For a carbon tax to work it needs to make certain economic activities not profitable. This causes conflict with governments who love to announce new large capital mega-projects. The current BC NDP government is a perfect example:
The B.C. government is redoing its fiscal framework for the liquefied natural gas industry in an attempt to secure a final investment decision from LNG Canada.
As part of this new framework on LNG, the government will also be setting a cap on carbon tax at $30 dollars, exempting LNG facilities from paying increases in carbon tax that are expected to go up to $50 a tonne by 2021.
The current carbon tax policy in BC makes the LNG a poor investment for the private sector. This is evidence of a properly working climate policy. The fact that a fossil fuel mega-project is no longer viable is a feature of the carbon tax not a bug. Making exceptions for mega-projects undercuts any climate policy.
The goal of any climate policy is to reduce GHG emissions, and a tonne of GHGs emitted by a mega-project has exactly the same climate impact as a tonne emitted by myself.
But what government wants to be responsible for the cancellation of a job producing mega-project? What government will make that hard decision? I only trust the Green Party to that. Other parties might say the right things, and even produce incredible climate policy but I expect exemptions to me made for industry in a futile attempt to have their cake and eat it too.
The fact that LNG now has an exemption that allows them to emit GHG at a cheaper rate than everyone else is problematic for the following reasons:
- It prevents the carbon tax from achieving the goal of reducing GHG emissions.
- It is deeply unfair. Why do large multi-million dollar corporations pay a lower price for emissions than you and me?
- It lets the government pick winners and losers instead of letting the free market do it. LNG is clearly a winner currently in BC; other industries haven’t gotten the same exemptions which hurts their competitiveness.
- It undercuts a government’s credibility. BC was seen as a leader in climate policy, after this LNG decision that has changed.
When standing the voting booth ask yourself, will your chosen candidate be able to make the difficult decisions needed to mitigate climate change? In Canada I think the answer is no, for all parties except the Green Party.
That is why I vote green.