Bush Lags Behind as Others Move Forward
|June 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Bush Lags Behind as Others Move Forward
Willing to Take On a Difficult Challenge?
What about your own state or province or region? Does it already have a plan to address climate change? If it is a very good plan, let us know.
Green Party of Ontario climate change plan calls for tax shifting, investment in renewable energy
The Green Party of Ontario (GPO) released its climate change plan on June 7, 2007, with calls to shut down coal-fired power plants by 2009, introduce tougher vehicle emissions standards and invest heavily in renewable energy programs. Rather than requiring Ontarians to pay more taxes, the GPO’s ambitious strategy would be funded through tax shifting, an end to subsidies for nuclear energy, and other measures.
“If the federal government of Canada won’t comply with its own agreement to meet Kyoto targets for greenhouse gas emissions, the province of Ontario must take the lead,” says GPO Leader Frank de Jong. “All of us – businesses and government as well as individuals – have a moral obligation to the rest of the world and to future generations to turn back the clock on climate change.
At the heart of the GPO vision, which comes just two days after the federal Green Party released its own climate change plan, is the central Green idea of tax shifting coupled with effective regulation. The GPO proposes to shift the main source of government revenue – taxes – from earned income (labour, business activities, farming, etc.) to unearned income (land use or resources) and other externalized costs, such as pollution.
The gradual change would not impede economic development or employment, and in fact would present new opportunities for Ontario while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2010, with a 50% reduction by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050.
“The Green Party’s plan for Ontario is creative, cost-effective and progressive,” de Jong says. “When green taxes are applied early, they encourage innovation, efficiency and alternatives. When coupled with the right regulations, they provide a total package for a solution to the climate change crisis.
Tax shifting is a market-based solution that would let Ontario address climate change without additional government spending.
“Every economic decision is influenced in part by the tax system, so if we get the taxes and regulations right, the market will take care of the rest,” de Jong says. “We think Ontarians should pay for what they burn, not for what they earn.”
Highlights of the GPO climate change plan include:
- A 2% carbon tax on coal, oil and natural gas imported for use in Ontario.
- Phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2009, natural gas and oil power generation by 2020 (except in areas where no other alternative exists), and nuclear power plants by 2025.
- The adoption of a carbon market and a carbon cap and trade system.
- Investing $16 billion over 15 years in conservation and demand management programs through loan guarantees, grants and tax credits that would be funded from savings realized by eliminating subsidies to nuclear energy.
- Working with municipalities and the federal government to facilitate small-scale wind, solar and other alternative energy generation.
- Adopting California-style tough emissions standards for new cars, light trucks and SUVs by 2016. [By the way, the Bush administration is attacking those standards and has sought a federal rule to eliminate all state standards of this sort.]
- Creating a $20-million fund to help farmers implement waste management systems and explore biomass, bio-energy and anaerobic digestion systems, and expanding the Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) program to compensate farmers for the public benefits of the ecological goods and services they provide.
- Introducing rebate programs for low-income Ontarians to ensure that electricity costs do not exceed a maximum percentage of household income.
- Doubling funding for the government’s Buy Ontario program to $25 million to encourage Ontario citizens to support local farmers.
To download and view “Meeting our Green Obligation – A Climate Change Plan,” please visit: http://www.gpo.ca
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