Canada cool to carbon tax, despite province's move

Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:11pm EST
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The Canadian government is not very interested in implementing a national a carbon tax, despite a decision by its third largest province to adopt one, federal Environment Minister John Baird said on Wednesday.

British Columbia's plan, unveiled on Tuesday, is the first of its kind in North America and its supporters say is among the world's most comprehensive tax programs aimed at curbing emissions of greenhouse gases, blamed for climate change.

Baird said British Columbia had the right to pursue its own strategy, but the federal government has a different approach.

He added he will not criticize the Western Canadian province's plan to impose a tax based on carbon content that will cover nearly all fossil fuels used by industry and individuals.

"We have a different focus, our approach is on industrial regulation," Baird said told Reuters. "There are a lot of different approaches. The good news is that they are taking action on climate change."

The federal Conservative government, which has abandoned Canada's commitments under the Kyoto climate change protocol, announced last year that it planned to cut emissions by up to 65 percent from 2006 levels by 2050.

But a panel appointed by the government warned in January that Ottawa would not be able to meet its targets for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases without enacting a carbon tax quickly.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been cool to the idea of carbon taxes and hard caps on industrial carbon emissions on the grounds they would hurt the economy.   Continued...

<p>Visitors to the shores of Whyte Cove in West Vancouver watch a severe Pacific storm blow in, November 12, 2007. Canada's westernmost province will impose a comprehensive carbon tax, the British Columbia government said on Tuesday, dismissing complaints from critics that such fees to fight climate change will hurt the economy. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>