Dear Thomas Mulcair, Leader, and Rebecca Blakie, President, New Democratic Party of Canada
I am writing you as a proud but concerned New Democrat. Your leaderships have advocated for environmental policies that are unbecoming of a government in waiting. Specifically, I speak to the party’s commitment to cap and trade strategies as a means to control Canadian green house gas emissions. Cap and trade policies are economically inefficient and seriously compromise the ability for governments to reduce emissions.
Cap and trade means the creation of an illegitimate market for carbon credits. How do you value a fake commodity? And are they given to polluters for free, which would reward current big polluters rather than innovators, or are they sold as one-time tax on business during our economic recovery? Further, the reduction aspect of cap and trade is that the cap will be gradually lowered; essentially, the government will be forced to buy back the carbon credits at market price. The political will of a government to negotiate the lowering of a cap must also be considered. In times of economic duress would plans to reduce caps fall wayward to economic issues?
Carbon offsets are also very difficult to quantify. The competitive market nature of the carbon offsets creates the incentive to produce carbon credits for the lowest possible cost, which in many cases won’t translate into a reduction in atmospheric carbon.
A carbon tax is a step toward a smart economy. Whereas the intermediate transactions of a carbon market would line the pockets of big bankers, a carbon tax means government revenue. This shift in revenue source would allow the Canadian economy to be reorganized so that personal income taxes would be reduced and public services, transit, and sustainable infrastructure could be funded.
The NDP cannot afford to find itself at odds with Canadian environmentalists during the next federal election. With the Liberal and Green Parties of Canada advocating carbon taxation, the NDP are defining themselves in opposition to a good policy. 2015 will be the NDP’s first chance at forming a federal government; we cannot afford to run on a platform of cap-and trade that will drive environmentalists into Green and Liberal camps. As well, consensus among progressive parties on green house gas emissions all-but guarantees action
As an environmentalist and New Democrat, I feel compelled to raise these concerns; I plan to sponsor a policy resolution at an upcoming NDP policy convention that would see the party embrace the ecological and economic benefits of carbon taxation. We can win in 2015, but I’d much rather hit the ground campaigning for an environmental strategy I can get behind. I hope you agree with the observations I’ve brought to your attention, and will collaborate on the creation of a pro carbon-tax policy for Canada’s New Democrats.