On the eve of an election campaign in British Columbia, three of Canada’s leading enviromental organizations held a press conference on Tuesday condemning a New Democratic Party promise to let B.C. polluters off the hook, despite the damage that might do to the environment or the economy.
The David Suzuki Foundation, the Pembina Institute and Forest Ethics jointly stated that “thousands of jobs in the green economy will be lost, and the province will lose its position as an environmental leader if the (first North American carbon) tax is dropped.”
“The NDP has chosen what they think will be a publicly acceptable but climate-irresponsible approach. And that is, they want to step backward the pricing of carbon and backwards on the policies that are in place in the hopes that that may get them elected,” Merran Smith, a climate director with ForestEthics, said Monday.
The carbon tax, passed by the reigning Liberal government last spring and implemented (awkwardly) just as oil prices peaked last July, has been hailed in environmental and economics circles as the fairest, most comprehensive and most transparent tax on fossil fuel pollution. The NDP alternative, on the other hand, was roundly criticized, most recently by the renowned BC economist, Dr. Marc Jaccard, who estimated that the NDP’s own plan for climate change could cost the province as many as 60,000 jobs by 2020.
As the Globe and Mail reported,
“The environmental alliance, which also includes the David Suzuki Foundation and ForestEthics, stopped short of telling voters to re-elect the Liberals to a third term. ‘“We didn’t say the Liberals are the greatest thing since sliced bread,’ said Merran Smith of ForestEthics.”
But the environmental movement appears unanimous that it would like the NDP to rethink what appears to be a completely cynical (and economically suspect) attack on the most progressive climate change policy on the continent. Such a change of heart appears highly unlikely, and the Liberals have risen to the challenge by trying (for example, with the dedication Tuesday of two new protected wildlife areas) to bolster their environmental credentials in other areas, as well.