Monday, April 26, 2010

National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy

You know the federal government is big when you can constantly discover new departments, agencies, and committees. Last night I discovered the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy. This roundtable is made up of “sustainability leaders active in businesses, universities, environmental groups, labour, public policy, and Aboriginal communities across Canada.” The roundtable has been around since 1988 and was created by Brian Mulroney. Anyway in 2009, they released a report called “Achieving 2050: A Carbon Pricing Policy for Canada”.

Some highlights:
-An economy-wide carbon price signal is the most effective way to achieve the Government of Canada’s medium- and long-term emission reduction targets and reduce cumulative emissions released into the atmosphere.

-That price signal should take the form of an economy-wide cap-and-trade system that unifies carbon prices across all jurisdictions and emissions and prepares us for international linkages with our major trading partners.

-An effective carbon pricing policy needs to find a balance between certainty and adaptability— it should be certain enough to transmit a clear, long-term price signal to the economy upon commencement to encourage technology and change behaviour, yet adaptable to changing circumstances and future learning.

-There is a cost to delay in the form of higher carbon prices later to meet targets, and a cost to maintaining Canada’s current fragmented approach to carbon pricing policies in the form of reduced GDP and higher carbon prices over time.

-Canada’s economy will continue to grow under this policy—it is forecast to be twice as large in 2050 than today—but this will be smaller than if no carbon pricing policy were adopted.

-New federal/provincial/territorial governance mechanisms and processes should be put in place to achieve a harmonized Canadian carbon pricing policy.

-Technology development and deployment, along with the electrification of the energy system, is central to emission reductions and is stimulated through an economy-wide carbon price signal, as well as appropriate public investment in carbon capture and storage and renewable energy.

-Complementary regulatory and technology policies in the transportation, buildings, oil and gas, and agricultural sectors are also required to ensure broad-based emissions coverage at an overall lower price, reduce total emissions, and meet government targets.

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