Environmental panel urges charge on use of fossil fuels

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will have to accept carbon taxes or other charges on greenhouses gases if his government is to have any hope of meeting its climate-change targets.

That is the main message from a blue-ribbon panel on the environment asked by the federal Conservatives to assess their long-term strategy for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The government wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 65 per cent by 2050.


Introducing a new charge on fossil fuels is the only way to ensure Canada succeeds in cutting its emissions, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy said in a report yesterday.

The new charge would mean Canadians would face higher costs to heat and light their homes and pump gas in their cars, the panel says.

“As long as ... carbon can be emitted freely, it will be extremely challenging, to say the least, to achieve any significant reductions,” said Glen Murray, the former Winnipeg mayor who chairs the panel.

“Market-based policies that put a price on carbon to send an economy-wide signal on emissions are the most effective way to achieve deep, long-term greenhouse gas emission reductions of the scale being considered,” he told a news conference.

Both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion have ruled out a carbon tax as a solution to fighting climate change.

Environment Minister John Baird said the government would review the panel’s recommendations, but rejected the suggestion of a carbon tax, saying “a new tax sounds like a Liberal idea to me.”

Instead, he said the Tories’ mandatory reductions for big polluters “is the best way to go. ... We believe we can regulate reductions in greenhouse gases. We regulated lead out of gasoline. We think this is a similar approach.”

No pain, no gain?

  • The report acknowledges there will be “pain” for Canadians as fossil fuels are slapped with a the new tax based on their carbon content. That could mean a 50 per cent increase in electricity costs, a 60 per cent jump in natural gas costs and a doubling of gas prices by 2050, the report predicts.

Latest From ...