Laser Talk #24: The Three Amigos Can Save the Climate

In 1994, Canada, the USA and Mexico signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).(1)  NAFTA contained provisions which allowed for high levels of environmental protection (2) and allowed for tariffs and duties on energy and petrochemical products.(3)

In the 2014 Climate Change Performance Index released by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe, Canada placed 58th, which is three countries from dead last. The USA also ranked near the bottom of the list, and Mexico fell somewhere in the middle.(4)  We’ve got a long way to go before we’re on the road to preventing climate change rather than causing it.

In October 2013, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned there will be no bail out for the climate threat.(5) The International Monetary Fund in March 2013 recommended that countries should eliminate all energy subsidies and redirect that public money to social programs.  As well, we need to put a price on dangerous carbon pollution.(6)

What carbon pricing mechanism should North America choose?

At the Three Amigos Summit earlier this month, President Obama indicated that he and PM Harper plan to work together on the climate crisis.(7) It should be noted that most Republicans have taken the Norquist Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Thus, in a Republican controlled Congress, there will be great resistance to any bureaucratic regime (regulation or cap-and-trade) for greenhouse gas emission emissions.

Carbon Fee and Dividend is a carbon pricing system with minimal tax burden to citizens. It was debated in the House of Commons by MP Bruce Hyer on January 30, 2014. With Carbon Fee and Dividend, subsidies are eliminated and 100% of the carbon fees collected are returned back to households on an equitable basis, thus sparing families the economic burden of transitioning to a low carbon economy. This explicit price on carbon pollution will provide the market signal for North America to create clean tech jobs.

The Three Amigos, Canada, the USA and Mexico, could create jobs and save the climate with Carbon Fee and Dividend.









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