OPEN LETTER: Trust in Science in Budget 2020 – UPDATED

Dear Parliamentarians,

We recognize that your workload must be enormous at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are heartened by how the federal, provincial and territorial governments are listening to scientists and cooperating. Here is an applicable quote for this moment in time:

“If you want to be incrementally better, be competitive. If you want to be exponentially better, be cooperative.” – Unknown

In a recent address to the people of Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau praised the youth of Canada for all they are doing to help their parents during this pandemic and for “trusting in science”.

The youth of our nation are making sacrifices to protect us during this pandemic by social distancing. We owe it to the youth of our nation to protect them from a crisis that will disproportionately impact them: the climate crisis.

Thus, at this time, we are asking you to not let the COVID-19 pandemic distract our country from fighting the climate crisis. Specifically, we ask you to defend Canada’s carbon pricing policy in the Budget 2020 Bill that was supposed to drop this week but was postponed to a day yet to be chosen.

At Citizens’ Climate Lobby we trust in science too. To tackle the climate crisis, our focus has been building the political will for Carbon Fee and Dividend: an incrementally rising price on carbon pollution where 100% of the fees collected are returned to citizens. Canada’s national backstop carbon pricing policy is a form of Carbon Fee and Dividend. Tellingly, 27 Nobel Prize-winning economists and thousands of economists worldwide support Carbon Fee and Dividend.

Gas prices are currently at record lows. Thus, the 6.7 cents per litre of gas at $30 per tonne carbon price in 2020 will not be a burden. On the contrary: Canada’s carbon pricing policy puts money in people’s pockets. The fact is, 80% of households come out ahead, a finding confirmed by the Parliamentary Budget Office and others.

We are most likely heading into a recession, if not a depression. When he regained power in 1935 during the Great Depression, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King implemented relief programs such as the National Housing Act and National Employment Commission similar to or even modeled after the New Deal of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The objective was to put money in the pockets of the common people and it worked. We need to do the same again today.

Thank you for the recently announced Canada Emergency Response Benefit which will provide a form of basic income for up to four months during the COVID19  crisis for those who qualify. Thinkers and entrepreneurs such as Karl Widerquist and Elon Musk have said that Universal Basic Income will become necessary to help people cope with the transition to an economy dominated by automation and artificial intelligence.   Perhaps now is the time to begin that transition. Canada’s carbon pricing policy is an important stepping stone towards universal basic income.

Just like carbon fee and dividend, Universal Basic Income is an economic policy that appeals to not only progressives but conservatives, too. Former Canadian conservative Senator Hugh Segal has long been a champion of Universal Basic Income. Segal recently said the COVID crisis is an even more timely to to consider it.  In addition to being a Senator, he was chief of staff to Ontario Premier Bill Davis in the 1970’s and later to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in the 1980’s. Of note, Spain is now moving towards permanent Universal Basic Income in the wake of the COVID 19 crisis.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a network of climate leaders in 58 countries around the world.  Our international colleagues tell us all the time that Canada is a world leader in carbon pricing.

When we come out of the COVID-19 crisis the world is going to be a dramatically changed place. This is a time where Canada can shine. The fact is the countries with the best climate policies that include carbon pricing will be better poised to capture part of the $26 trillion opportunities in climate-smart growth by 2030.

Thus, be rest assured if the budget protects and perhaps improves Canada’s carbon pricing policy, Citizens’ Climate Lobby groups in over 100 ridings will be cheering you on because, at Citizens’ Climate Lobby, we stand behind the politicians who stand up for the climate and, therefore, the long-term interests of all Canadians.

(Updated again on April 7, 2020).