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Canadian Youth say Dion Carbon Tax a good first step but….

Posted by mhudema on July 7, 2008

July 7, 2008

Green bonanza!

Grit leader predicts his carbon plan will mean ‘megatonnes of money’ for Alberta


Federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion brandishes a copy of his Green Shift carbon emissions reduction plan while addressing the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition conference at the University of Alberta yesterday. Dion fielded questions about global climate change from youth across the country. (JAMES MacLENNAN/Special to Sun Media)

A Liberal plan to tax greenhouse-gas emissions will mean “megatonnes of money” instead of economic disaster for Alberta, Stephane Dion vowed yesterday.

The so-called Green Shift tax proposal, which would slap a $40-per-tonne levy on carbon emissions, “will be good for a province like Alberta as it will be for the whole of Canada,” Dion, the leader of the federal Liberals, promised a crowd of dele-gates at the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition conference in Edmonton.

“Imagine Fort McMurray to be sustainable,” he told the audience. “We’ll have the know-how that we’ll be able to export around the world and we’ll make megatonnes of money with it.”

Dion, who has been touring the province in a bid to sell the carbon tax, said the advantage to Alberta will come from economic diversification fostered by the levy.

“If Norway is ahead of us through (carbon dioxide) capture and storage, it’s partly because they put a price on carbon years ago. It has not stopped them (from being) a very healthy, wealthy economy. We need to do the same in Canada.”

Dion’s words drew a warm response from the conference delegates. At the end of his speech, they led the Liberal leader through a cheer declaring “there’s too much carbon in the atmosphere.”

Still, the Alberta government isn’t buying his words. “The premier has said very clearly that this is simply a transfer of wealth that would hurt the energy-producing provinces more vigorously than the other provinces,” said Tom Olsen, a spokesman for Premier Ed Stelmach.

While Dion has promised the carbon tax would be revenue-neutral through matching reductions in income taxes – particularly for people who make less – a major share of the government’s take from the green levy would come from Canada’s biggest greenhouse-gas emitter, Alberta.

That has Olsen predicting the Liberal plan would be certain to cause economic pain here.

“I don’t know that Mr. Dion is ready to accept the national importance to oil and gas,” he said, arguing that Alberta has already taken action on climate change through regulations forcing companies to reduce the intensity – but not necessarily the total amount – of their greenhouse-gas emissions.

Dion, though, argued he’s been getting plenty of support for the plan during his Alberta tour. “Albertans, like other Canadians, want to do the right thing. … They want to look at their kids and grandchildren in the eyes and say, ‘I will do something for you,’ ” he said.

Many of the delegates at the conference yesterday agreed. “I think it’s a good first step,” said Laura Franceschini, a 28-year-old Edmontonian. “We need to go much further to develop a much more comprehensive plan to really tackle this issue but we need to get started.”

P.J. Partington, 22, said that, while he’d like to hear Dion spell out his policies on the future of the oilsands more clearly, he was glad to hear him commit to limiting the rise in global temperatures to 2 C.

Partington, the manager of climate-change programs for the non-profit organization Taking IT Global, said he’s concerned about Canada’s stance on environmental issues at international conferences. “I have really seen Canada’s reputation in those forums, and it’s just abysmal. It’s really sad as a Canadian because I know it’s not what Canadians want.”

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