Carbon Tax…an opportunity?

Carbon tax is an opportunity to level the playing field.

The problem is when we see the word TAX, we have a visceral reaction to it and why not? Honestly paying taxes is frustrating, and expensive. So often we do not feel that we are getting our money’s worth. The issue of Taxes is not the topic for today.

Carbon is the topic today.

2016 is the warmest year on record thus far. We have seen record extremes in weather. Oil prices are ridiculously low – how can this be a good thing for our earth? Well to be honest it is the best thing that could happen. Rather than adding a tax to the price of carbon, oil prices have made it unprofitable to harvest from the tar sands and other areas that have carbon intensive extraction processes. So the oil stays in the earth. That’s a good thing.

For many years, socially responsible investors have been demanding a balance of our energy needs. We have asked that our grids go green – nuclear, wind, solar and hydro electricity are all earth stewardship alternatives….I saw that! Ok for the purists of corporate social responsibility, you just screamed, “No nuclear never!” Nuclear is an expensive and risky alternative but for today it is safer than fossil fuels.  Many countries have a very green grid. Canada included. The focus on many countries is to reduce the production of fossil fuels.

Mille Craig of Millani Perspectives and Sophie Brochu, President Gaz Metro on the IWF Ecpnomic Panel discussing Carbon Tax

Mille Craig of Millani Perspectives and Sophie Brochu, President Gaz Metro on the IWF Economic Panel discussing Carbon Tax

The challenge is that to move away from fossil fuels loses MANY jobs; both in fossil fuel extraction and in their subsequent support infrastructure.

So what is the answer?

Ambiguity.

At this point, we have ventured into a new world. We do not know what it will look like.

We know the values that we want included.

Christopher Ragan, Associate Professor of Economics, McGill University discussed the Ecofiscal Commission. Their mandate is:

 An ecofiscal policy corrects market price signals to encourage the economic activities we do want (job creation, investment, and innovation) while reducing those we don’t want (greenhouse gas emissions and the pollution of our land, air, and water).

Yes we want clean capitalism. Yes that is a slogan around which we can all rally.               The question is “What’s behind the slogan?”

Ambiguity.

The message must be clear, Whenever we talk about Climate Change, we must respect all the peoples who are unemployed. People who are hungry and scared of the future. People who do not see any reason to hope.

It is now a time for leadership. Everyone in corporate social responsibility must be standing up and demanding job creation, investment and innovation. This is time of tremendous change. And with every transformation, there are times when we are very uncomfortable, even terrified! And so it is right now.

Yet there are many thought leaders who are saying that a Carbon tax will not cost us money or jobs. Many sectors will be negligibly affected and we will create jobs and opportunity. So what are the focus areas:

Ecofiscal's Report: Smart, Practical, Possible: Canadian options for greater economic and environmental prosperity

Ecofiscal’s Report: Smart, Practical, Possible: Canadian options for greater economic and environmental prosperity

 

The focus of the report shows that we need to address some very key areas quickly:

 

  • Road congestion pricing
  • Municipal user fees
  • Carbon Pricing
  • Subsidy Reform
  • Air pollution pricing
  • Water pollution pricing
  • Water use pricing
  • Catastrophic risk pricing

What this means is that we need to add the cost of cleaning up the mess that various sectors/consumers leave in our world. Now for those of you still uncomfortable… We are asking for companies, investors, and consumers to clean up after themselves. To live what we all learned in kindergarten – put things back the way you found them!

 

yours in Corporate Social Responsibility

Cara MacMillan MBA

 

 

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