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Canada needs economy-wide price on carbon emissions: NRTEE report

Canada can achieve deep greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions by 2050, but only by putting a price on carbon emissions throughout the entire Canadian economy beginning as soon as possible, concludes the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) in a new climate change report released Monday, January 7, entitled Getting to 2050: Canada’s Transition to a Low-emission Future.

January 30, 2008  By  Rob Colman

At the request of the Minister of the Environment, the NRTEE explored potential scenarios for how Canada could achieve deep, long-term GHG emission reduction targets (20 per cent by 2020 and 60 per cent to 70 per cent by 2050 from current levels), as well as air pollutants reduction targets (50 per cent and 80 per cent by 2050). The report sets out a framework for how Canada can transition to a low-emission future and achieve these long-term emission reductions.

The central recommendation of the report is to establish an economy-wide price signal for carbon emissions as soon as possible. The NRTEE research shows that the most effective and efficient policy that would result in deep GHG emission reductions is a market-based policy, such as an emissions tax, a cap-and-trade system, or a combination of the two. In order to achieve the deep emission reduction target, this policy would need to be complemented by other sector-specific regulatory measures to force emission reductions from those parts of the economy that do not respond to a price signal.

"Our analysis shows that putting a price on emissions is the most effective tool to achieve deep GHG reductions over the long-term," said NRTEE Chair Glen Murray. "An early and clear price signal is needed to influence the investment decisions by industry in the technology and innovation required to achieve deep reductions and also to influence consumer decisions and behaviour."

The report was received with enthusiasm by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE). Thomas d’Aquino, Chief Executive and President of the CCCE, notes that it provides Canadians with a sound and comprehensive policy blueprint to achieve significant long-term reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
"Canada’s business leaders are committed to effective action on climate change, and in that spirit we strongly welcome the NRTEE’s final Advisory Report on long-term reductions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants," said d’Aquino, whose organization represents 150 chief executives and leading entrepreneurs from all major sectors and regions of the country.


He noted that the report’s main recommendations closely parallel those of the CCCE’s own Task Force on Environmental Leadership. In October, the Task Force published a Policy Declaration putting forward five key propositions that would enable Canada to reduce GHG emissions and make the greatest possible contribution to a sustainable global economy.

The Round Table’s analysis concludes that the government’s medium and long-term targets are achievable with the equivalent impact on Canada’s GDP of 1 to 2 "years of lost GDP" over the 44-year period from 2006 to 2050.

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