British Columbia

Carbon tax should be higher, say 130 B.C. businesses in letter to Christy Clark

The list includes companies that 'burn a lot of fuel,' but still think the province needs to act to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Signatories include Mountain Equipment Co-op and a micobrewery but also companies that 'burn a lot of fuel'

The B.C. government is currently taking public input to develop a new climate policy, which may or may not include an increase to the carbon tax.

More than 130 B.C. businesses have signed a letter to Premier Christy Clark asking her government to raise the carbon tax, including companies that — in their own words — "burn a lot of fuel."

The letter, delivered yesterday and initiated by environmental groups, says the carbon tax has been a success both economically and environmentally since it was introduced in 2008.

The businesses want it raised by $10 per tonne per year starting in 2018.

The long list of signatories includes the usual suspects: green energy companies, environmental consultants, a microbrewery and Mountain Equipment Co-op.

But the list also includes people who make their money by driving around: a car co-op, a grocery delivery service, and a courier company.

"It does seem a paradox that a courier company or a freight company would be looking for greater carbon tax, but I just think it's the right road to go on," said Ken Johnston, president of Novex Delivery Systems based in Richmond.

The letter comes as the province takes input on a new climate policy, expected later this spring.

Saving money in the long run

B.C.'s current carbon tax is $30 per tonne of CO2 equivalent emissions, which adds 6.7 cents a litre to gasoline and 7.7 cents a litre to diesel.

Novex Delivery, a courier and freight company based in Richmond, B.C., is one of the businesses calling on the B.C. government to raise the carbon tax. (Novex Delivery Systems)

The businesses are calling on the premier to more than double that, following the recommendations of the province's Climate Leadership Team to raise the tax by $10 per tonne per year, for five years, starting in July 2018.

Clark appointed the team, but hasn't committed to following its advice.

The letter from businesses says a stronger carbon carbon tax will encourage business to invest more in solutions to reduce greenhouse gasses.

"We believe the tax is a good thing," said Johnston, though he says they do "burn a lot of fuel."

Novex has pledged to switch its entire courier fleet of about 85 vehicles to hybrids or electrics by the end of the year, and is about halfway there, he said.

Hybrids save them 40 per cent on fuel, so it's worth it.

"Even though there might be initially a cost to that, at the end of the day, with the type of technology that's coming along and the vehicles we're switching to, we believe that that's the answer for us."

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark hasn't committed to adopting the recommendations of the Climate Leadership Team she appointed. The province is taking public comment on a new climate policy until next week. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Public consultation ends next week

The B.C. government is currently taking public input to develop a new climate policy, which may or may not include an increase to the carbon tax.

Matt Horne of the Pembina Institute, one of the environmental groups that initiated the letter, says raising the carbon tax is an important part of meeting B.C.'s targets to reduce greenhouse gases.

"It has been working and it makes sense to build on that success."

B.C.'s carbon tax has been frozen since 2012, and the premier pledged to keep it that way until 2018.

"[B.C. climate policies] have more or less stalled over the last few years, and as a result carbon pollution is creeping back up," said Horne.

"The ability to change that pretty quickly though is still within the province's reach."

The B.C. government has extended the public comment period on its new climate policy until noon on next Friday, April 8, with more than a thousand submissions already received.

It is expected to release its Climate Leadership Plan this spring, Horne said.


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