I’m glad to see that Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole is offering a substantial set of proposals to address climate change in his platform, released yesterday. Canadians expect their governments to get serious about climate. In fact, public opinion is clear that the Conservative Party can’t win the next election without a credible climate plan.
I am disappointed to see O’Toole proposing to cancel the federal carbon tax and rebate. A carbon tax and rebate policy is the most effective and affordable way to reduce our carbon emissions, which is why many conservative commentators support the policy.
Nonetheless, I am encouraged to see the O’Toole platform emphasize the importance of relying on “proven, market-based principles for incenting positive change.” O’Toole proposes a pricing regime for large emitters, which I assume will look similar to the output-based pricing system now in place at the federal level and in provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Importantly, the O’Toole platform also commits to “working with industry to get to net zero emissions in the oil and gas industry,” which several companies have now committed to do. I hope he will go further, and implement a plan to reduce emissions across the economy to net-zero by 2050, which is what scientists say is needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. That would be a significant commitment, and a first from a Conservative leadership candidate.
Conservatives can and should be policy leaders on the environment and climate change, and they should lead with cost-effective, market-based policies. O’Toole suggests that’s what he intends to do, so we hope he’ll reconsider his opposition to the policy that best fits that bill—a carbon tax and rebate.
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