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BC NDP Leader Accepts BC Carbon Tax (Bravo! Carole James)

After election defeat, a conscientious shift

In a surprising and impressive political about-face, BC New Democratic Party leader Carole James withdrew her party’s opposition to the BC carbon tax today - committing to improving the tax, rather than trying to undermine it.

B.C. NDP - Greens = Liberal victory Tuesday

“As citizens of the planet, it is our responsibility to put the planet before politics and urge the next B.C. government and federal politicians to do the same.”

Mike Harcourt, et al, Globe and Mail Online, Saturday, May 9, 2009

At a critical time, B.C. New Democratic Party leader Carole James decided it was expedient to put politics first, and tomorrow, it looks like she will pay the price.

The B.C. election campaign that wraps up today has been  both shocking and inevitable. It was shocking, for example, that so many traditional New Democratic Party (NDP) supporters, from David Suzuki and Tzeporah Berman to (most surprisingly) former NDP Premier Mike Harcourt, should speak up in praise of Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell’s carbon tax.

And it was inevitable that the NDP would dismiss THAT as politics, making a strained claim for environmental high ground on the basis of the party’s other policies.

Conservation Voters of BC launches "Anybody But Carole" campaign

Frustrated by what they see as a failure in leadership by the BC NDP on the issue of climate change, the high profile Conservation Voters of BC announced today that they are endorsing “Anybody But Carole” in NDP leader Carole James riding of Victoria-Beacon Hill.

The group also announced that they will not be endorsing any NDP incumbents that were members of the past caucus.

The Conservation Voters press release states that:

“As leader, the decision to position the NDP campaign against world-leading climate policies while not putting forward improvements or better alternatives is on her shoulders. We do not endorse Carole James for re-election.

Due to the New Democrats’ failure to be leaders in promoting real solutions to global warming we cannot endorse any NDP incumbents that were members of this past caucus. We believe the party needs new leadership and new voices that take a more urgent, principled and collaborative approach to meeting the challenges of climate change.”

Al Gore Champions Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax

“We should tax what we burn, not what we earn. This is the single most important policy change we can make.”

- Al Gore, Former US Vice President and 2008 Nobel Laureate

Given the debate over British Columbia’s carbon tax, we’re highlighting the opinions of some of the world’s top leaders on climate change solutions and their thoughts on carbon tax policy. And who better to look to than the Nobel prize-winning former US Vice-President Al Gore.

Gore has long been an outspoken champion of the idea of a revenue-neutral carbon tax that shifts the tax burden away from things like income and small business tax and puts it on the consumption of fuels that emit heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

In a speech Gore gave last summer at the Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, he explained that:

“Of course, we could and should speed up this transition by insisting that the price of carbon-based energy include the costs of the environmental damage it causes. I have long supported a sharp reduction in payroll taxes with the difference made up in CO2 taxes. We should tax what we burn, not what we earn. This is the single most important policy change we can make.” (my emphasis)

As John Lauhmer at Treehugger explains Gore’s carbon tax position:

“As a not-running-for President guy, Al’s in a position to be logical about the best public policy to drive climate action: a carbon tax. No Democratic candidate can come out for a carbon tax because he or she would be attacked for being a ‘tax and spend liberal.’ And no Republican candidate can come out of the carbon tax closet because…you know…tax cuts.”

Tzeporah Berman leading the climate policy charge

Tzeporah Berman of the climate change advocacy group PowerUp Canada struck a devastating blow against the New Democratic Party’s ill-advised opposition to the BC carbon tax yesterday with a letter pointing out NDP leader Carole James’ hypocrisy on the issue.

Berman, whose criticism of the NDP’s position was featured in a line story in the Vancouver Sun Friday, began the letter by saying to James, “I feel deeply betrayed by the BC NDP Platform released last week and your flip-flops on green economy and climate policy. You are playing partisan politics with our children’s future.”

Leading Canadian climate scientist calls BC NDP policies "regressive and counter-productive"

One of Canada’s top climate scientists - a Nobel-winning lead author on each of the last three reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - has written an opinion piece in the Victoria Times Colonist, denouncing the BC New Democratic Party for its opposition to the BC carbon tax.

Accusing the NDP of making “demonstrably false assertions” in its attack on the carbon tax, University of Victoria Professor Andrew Weaver says:

“The NDP’s so-called environmental platform is regressive and counter-productive. I hope our message to the world from the election is that political opportunism, gimmickry and short-sightedness doesn’t work with B.C. voters; British Columbians truly care about the environment and intergenerational equity.”

Weaver is also the author of the excellent book, Keeping our Cool: Canada in a Warming World.

Toronto Star Backs BC Carbon Tax

In an editorial under the headline: “Carbon tax battle may not be over,” the Toronto Star has taken note of the issue that is currently dominating the BC election conversation.

The Star concludes:

“…American commentators, ranging from New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman to right-wing economist Arthur Laffer, are calling for a carbon tax as an alternative to cap-and-trade. ‘Since the opponents of cap-and-trade are going to pillory it as a tax anyway, why not go for the real thing – a simple, transparent, economy-wide carbon tax?’ asked Friedman in his column last weekend.

“Why not, indeed.”

BC NDP's Cap and Trade Proposal Nothing New

BC NDP leader Carole James defended her party’s proposal to scrap the BC Carbon Tax by promising to “implement a cap-and-trade system to put a price on carbon.”

This of course is nothing new in that British Columbia is already a partner in the Western Climate Initiative (WCI.)

Under the WCI framework member States and Provinces are well underway in identifying, evaluating, and implementing “collective and cooperative ways to reduce greenhouse gases in the region, focusing on a market-based cap-and-trade system.”

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