"Strengthen BC's carbon tax", say B.C. business leaders

Business owners and environmental groups unite in support for BC carbon tax increases, without industry exemptions.

An open letter released Monday by the Pembina Institute, the David Suzuki Foundation and Tides Canada brings together 85 different leaders and business owners to voice their support for strengthening B.C.’s climate action efforts through the carbon tax. "Human-caused warming could cost our nation up to 25 per cent of its wealth," the letter says.

Citing recent reports from the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, supporters say the economic impacts of global warming warrant a stronger stance on the carbon tax in years to come.

“We call on government to commit to a schedule of continuing increases after July 2012, in a way that is fair and enables all B.C. businesses and communities to be part of the solution,” the letter reads.

The statement from businesses comes in response to recommendations from the BC Finance Committee to cap the carbon tax and introduce exemptions for certain industries.

“It’s pretty clear that environmental groups wouldn’t be supportive of that direction, but [we] also wanted to help the businesses that are not supportive of that direction voice their concerns,” said Pembina’s Matt Horne.

Speaking to the Vancouver Observer, Horne made reference to the Finance Committee’s proposal to apply exemptions for the public sector, agriculture and possibly the cement industry.

Representatives within the cement industry, for example, have been vocal about their concerns that businesses are suffering due to “unintended consequences” of the carbon tax. But for Horne, exemptions for selected industries could set a troubling precedent.

“Every exemption, or loophole, depending on how you want to label it, leads to calls for a next round of loopholes and exemptions,” said Horne.

“And I think the approach BC has taken, that is applying it as broadly as possible and as fairly as possible, it makes quite a bit of sense to just provide a level playing field for everybody.”

The long list of signatories on the open letter includes the owners of a number of local businesses, such as Vancity bank, Salt Spring Coffee, YYoga, Modo Car Co-op, Bing Thom Architects and Mountain Equipment Co-op.

“This is consistent with MEC’s endorsement of the carbon tax. Since it was introduced, we have been supportive of it,” said Mountain Equipment Co-op spokesperson Tim Southam.

“The carbon tax is something we see as being a very sound fiscal policy, and a very sound energy policy. It’s been recognized by a number of leading economists as really being the best means of addressing climate change for business. If you put a price on carbon, the market will respond accordingly and we will see a reduction. That process is underway in British Columbia, and we want to lend our name to that to support that.”

To view the full text of the open letter, click here.

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