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Fredericton & Saint John chapters say spend carbon tax revenue on job creation

The Council of Canadians Fredericton and Saint John chapters have joined with a coalition of groups to call on Premier Brian Gallant to spend his province’s carbon tax revenue on job creation.

The demand was made by groups assembled for a Clean Energy East Summit in Saint John today. Their media release states, “Set up as a public investment fund, [a new government department called RenewNB] would oversee the use of a $20/Ton carbon tax revenue to create a massive job creation program by investing into clean energy and building efficiency programs. This investment strategy would create 15,000 – 20,000 lifetime jobs, eventually wipe out NB Power debt, and generate over $2 Billion in extra revenue for the province once the transition to a low carbon economy is complete.”

Fredericton chapter activist Mark D’Arcy says, “It is not fair to our underemployed workers to delay this huge job creation opportunity any longer. Our world leaders decided in Paris last year that we will limit the effects of global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, and it is time we all get to work fulfilling that commitment.”

The Trudeau government is considering setting a $15 a tonne national minimum carbon price by September and has the provinces on board with this plan. In February, the Globe and Mail reported, “Ottawa is aiming to work out a deal with the provinces over the next six months to set a national minimum carbon price of at least $15 per tonne. …The national plan would set a floor price for provinces that don’t have their own levy, with the expectation they would establish one in order to collect the revenue. The minimum price would increase each year.”

On March 4, the day after a federal-provincial summit to discuss this direction, the Toronto Star reported, “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was able to get the premiers to agree to carbon-pricing as part of a Canadian strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions…” The CBC added, “Gallant says there are a number of options to put a price on carbon, and one example would be to raise the tax on what people pay at the gas pump. The premier has said in the past any carbon tax would be revenue neutral, but he did not repeat that promise [in his March 4 statement].”

The Globe and Mail article also noted, “The $15-a-tonne levy is seen as a modest effort by environmentalists and economists, who argue it will take a much higher carbon price to meet Canada’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.” On that front:

  • The Leap Manifesto calls for “a progressive carbon tax” along with an end to fossil fuel subsidies, financial transaction taxes, increased resource royalties, higher income taxes on corporations and wealthy people, and cuts to military spending.

  • The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ ‘Alternative Federal Budget’ calls for a $30 a tonne national harmonized carbon tax.

  • Naomi Klein in her book ‘This Changes Everything’ writes, “A $50 tax per metric ton of CO2 emitted in developed countries would raise an estimated $450 billion annually, while a more modest $25 carbon tax would still yield $250 billion a year…”

  • The Green Budget Coalition (which has 16 members including West Coast Environmental Law, Ecojustice, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the David Suzuki Foundation) calls for a carbon tax that would reach $50 a tonne by 2020.

In February, the Globe and Mail editorial board commented, “Decisions by some provinces to put a price on carbon, through taxes or a cap-and-trade system, should slow the increase in GHG emissions. Higher oil prices that reduce consumption might also help. But to produce the kind of sharp drop needed between now and 2030, Canada will have to amputate, not nip and tuck.”

The Council of Canadians has argued that the Energy East and Trans Mountain pipelines – and the massive expansion of the tar sands that those projects would facilitate – are key obstacles that would prevent Canada from doing its part to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.