Although today’s throne speech is expected to make good on Premier Gordon Campbell’s promise of a green budget, those looking for specifics on the government’s climate action plan will have to wait.
In media reports yesterday, Campbell said that details for achieving a 33 per cent cut in B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 will be unveiled a few weeks after the Feb. 19 budget.
Recent interviews have seen Finance Minister Carole Taylor hinting at the introduction of a carbon tax. However, a government panel recently found that anxiety about global warming in B.C. is mirrored by economic anxiety.
The government’s challenge in the coming weeks is to find a politically palatable solution for both concerns, said Nic Rivers, a research associate with Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management.
“We’ve worked out a level of taxation we’re comfortable with and a carbon tax doesn’t have to alter that balance,” he said. “It could be treated as a tax shift rather than an increase with revenues offset by cuts to payroll taxes, for example.”
When Quebec introduced Canada’s first carbon tax last year, it was accompanied by a pledge that revenues raised would be invested into environmentally sound projects such as pubic transit, something that Marc Lee of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said could work in B.C.