Saturday, 28 March 2015

Ontario's climate change consultation

This is my contribution to the climate change consultation in Ontario, which, unfortunately, ends today. Go to the Environmental Registry to submit your own comments!

At base, we need to reduce the use of fossil fuels in energy production and as an input into other production processes (e.g. chemicals). What that means is pricing fossil fuels properly and getting rid of all fossil fuel subsidies for extraction, production and use (which are still massive in Canada and around the world). 

Since climate damage is not incorporated into fossil fuel prices, governments need to do this through some form of carbon tax. Carbon pricing is not adequate since it does not necessarily reduce the amount of carbon that gets released. We need to reduce carbon emissions, not simply pay for releasing them. A carbon tax alongside getting rid of fossil fuel subsidy can establish a proper price for fossil fuels that enables other energy technologies to compete on a level playing field. 

One major problem with this, however, is the threat of energy poverty and unequal impacts of climate change (e.g. flood damage) as some people are more significantly affected by these than others; this must be taken into account. 
  • Suggested policy 1: eradicate all fossil fuel subsidies, in whatever sector of the economy they exist.
  • Suggested policy 2: progressively raise the cost of fossil fuels fivefold over a set number of years (e.g. 5-10 years) through a carbon tax.
  • Suggested policy 3: re-allocate subsidies to renewable energy (e.g. wind, solar, etc.) and sustainable technology sectors (e.g. bio-economy).
  • Suggested policy 4: allocate the taxes received from fossil fuels as tax credits to cover the costs of energy transitions and climate change impacts on citizens, which would include things like rising insurance costs (e.g. resulting from flooding), retrofitting, renewable energy installation (e.g. solar), etc.

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