BLOG: Lobbying at the Epicentre of the Carbon Bubble

Toronto, ON: Please don’t believe the misleading rhetoric coming from some Conservative candidates in this current federal election in Canada that implies the Harper government is responsible for the slight decrease in Canada’s national greenhouse gas emissions since 2005. According to Julia Gelfand, Canada’s Federal Environment Commissioner, “without provincial actions, Canada’s emissions would likely now be higher than when the Conservatives came to office”.

Thus, when Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteers heard in August that the Ontario government will be introducing it carbon pricing policy in mid-October, we pulled together and conducted a carbon pricing conference and lobbying days on October 4 and 5, 2015 in Toronto.

Jeff Rubin author of “The Carbon Bubble: What happens to us when it bursts”, was our keynote speaker. In his tenure as chief economist at CIBC World Markets, Rubin witnessed three economic bubbles: the dot-com bubble (2000), the subprime mortgage bubble (2008) and the carbon bubble (now). The carbon bubble’s false assumption is we can combust and emit as much carbon as we wish into the atmosphere to power economic growth. A cold chill passed through me when he pointed out that unlike the first two bubbles, Canada is at the epicentre of the carbon bubble. Rubin eloquently detailed why the way forward is a national and revenue-neutral carbon tax. He said, “Decarbonizing our economy doesn’t mean increasing taxes: decarbonizing our economy means shifting the tax base from income to carbon.”

Our guest speaker, Tom Chervinsky from Clean Prosperity shared with us insights on how to build support across party lines which we applied the next day lobbying our representatives.

On Monday, October 5, 33 of us lobbied 13 Members of Provincial Parliament. I lobbied my MPP, the Honourable Glenn Thibeault, the Parliament Assistant to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and my neighbouring MPP, France Gélinas (NDP Deputy Leader). Additionally, this month at least 4 more provincial lobbying sessions are scheduled or have taken place in Ontario.

Our preferred method for pricing carbon is Carbon Fee and Dividend, a revenue-neutral carbon tax implemented nationally. However, since the Ontario Government has decided to implement Cap and Trade (our second favourite system), we asked our representatives to commit to the following to avoid the pitfalls experienced by other jurisdictions that have implemented Cap and Trade:

  • An annually decreasing cap and strong floor price.
  • Set the cap as upstream as possible.
  • Include no offsets in the system and no credit give-aways to industry lobbyists.
  • Return revenues from the auctions to Ontarian households to help citizens shoulder rising costs passed onto them by industry.
  • A third party administrator.

Twice Citizens’ Climate Lobby were mentioned at Queen’s Park on Monday, October 5 by MPP France Gélinas (MPP Nickel Belt) and the Ontario Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Glen Murray. Minister Murray said, “… There are many members of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby here. This has been one of the most powerful groups for advocacy on climate change …”

Thirty years from now, when Sudburians look back at this time in history, we will be able to say, “We were national headquarters to the powerful advocacy group for climate change: Citizens’ Climate Lobby.”

Citizens' Climate Lobby Ontario with author and economist Jeff Rubin (centre)

 

For more pictures of our lobbying adventures at Queen’s Park in Toronto, Ontario, check out our Facebook Photo Album for this event.

Cathy Orlando has put her words to work for the climate by getting letters and opinion pieces published in newspapers in every province in Canada. When she’s not working as the National Manager for Citizens' Climate Lobby Canada, you can probably find her stargazing, dancing, reading books not about climate change, hanging out with her husband Sanj or being a mother to her three cherished daughters.