Following a year of research, analysis, consultations, and deliberations, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) has released its final report entitled “Getting to 2050: Canada’s Transition to a Low-emission Future.”
The study was undertaken following a formal request by the Government of Canada in the fall of 2006.
The report sets out a number of clear recommendations for effective action to achieve the government’s stated goal of deep, long-term greenhouse gas emission reductions of 60-70 percent below current levels by 2050.
The most central recommendation outlines the need to establish an economy-wide price on carbon emissions as soon as possible.
I agree with the NRTEE that we need urgent and aggressive action to fight climate change. I further agree with the NRTEE conclusion that the only way to make significant progress is to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions.
That is why Liberal leader Stephane Dion introduced a Carbon Budget Plan last March that outlines an aggressive cap-and-trade system for emitters. Such a plan is one of the options the NRTEE report finds will be highly successful.
The Liberal Carbon Budget Plan would set a national carbon budget, or “hard cap,” on greenhouse gases (GHGs) from which each of the three large emitter sectors (electricity generation, oil and gas production, and energy intensive companies) would be allocated its own budget.
Those companies that exceed their carbon budget would be required to make a deposit into a Green Investment Account, which they can earn back to finance green projects that product real, verifiable emissions reductions in their own operations.
The Carbon Budget Plan will force large Canadian companies to either reduce their emissions to levels required or spend significant money on Canadian projects that have the effect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The NRTEE report “acknowledges that achieving deep reductions to GHGs poses a real challenge to the economy,” but also “recognizes that this challenge creates opportunities for innovation and technology development.”
I must take this opportunity to reiterate my concern that the cost of not making these reductions in our GHG emissions is significantly higher than the economic impact of making them.
I am hopeful the NRTEE report will further nudge the Conservative government to put a price on carbon emissions as a serious step towards the significant emissions reductions that are needed.
The report is available at www.nrtee-trnee.ca