Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Green Shift: Rational Discourse

With so many people, bloggers and otherwise, either defending the Liberals' 'Green Shift' plan uncritically or dismissing it out of hand - with their positions almost always based on party affiliation - I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to read the following from Devin Johnston:

St├ęphane Dion has asked Canadians to engage in an honest discussion of his "Green Shift" carbon tax proposal. I thank the Liberal leader for his maturity in engaging in an open policy discussion of a matter of critical importance to the country, unlike the Conservative government which has adopted the strategy of inaction and denial on the climate change issue, while using immature and dishonest rhetoric rather than substantive policy analysis in opposing Dion's proposal. While I ultimately conclude for reasons to follow that the proposal as it currently stands is bad policy, the potential exists for the Liberals and NDP to come together to create broader-ranging, multifaceted plan that makes better policy sense. I encourage both parties to seriously examine this "third option" instead of allowing their differences to prevent substantial action from being taken (as was the case on the Afghanistan file.)

He goes on to provide some of the most intelligent and thoughtful analysis I've read so far on this issue, discussing the pros and cons of not only the Liberal plan but the NDP plan as well, and making some concrete suggestions as to how the best elements of both might be combined.

Before proceeding to some of the pros and cons in general terms, though, it should be pointed out that there is nothing incompatible about these policy options. A hybrid system in which there is a hard cap and emissions under that cap are taxed is possible. Moreover, neither one of these options is viable in and of itself. Any basis policy framework aimed at reducing carbon emissions must also be supplemented by additional measures such as investments in green technology and low-interest loans for home retrofitting (just to give two examples.) Moreover, both increase the cost of goods and thereby distribute the burdens addressing climate change on to individuals, leaving lower income persons particularly at risk. Therefore, climate change policies must include provisions that soften the blow to the working poor, who are often not in a position to adapt to a less carbon-intensive lifestyle.

It goes on, with even most of the commenters making rational, productive contributions to the discussion. Read and learn.

This is how the grownups do it, folks.


  1. Thank you for the glowing review. In the past my blog entries have tended to be more partisan and divisive, but I am making a real effort to engage in issues with more depth these days. Some of the comments on my blog have been particularly encouraging to me, as people seem to be taking on the challenge of responding to my points with thoughtful responses of their own. This gives me hope that a more productive discussion between people of different political stripes is possible.


  2. Thank you for contributing to the discussion.

    I grew up on a farm and watched suburbs sprawl over the farm land. After spending 7yrs in the US and 4yrs in Hong Kong, I have returned.

    I feel heart broken see how much land has been lost in these few years. To compensate the loss in land and ethanol demand, expect basic food prices to increase. Meat and Milk prices increases first with grains to follow close behind.

    Canada has vast land mass but so little of it is productive farm land. All of the productive farm land in Canada is in heavy use, there is no more productive land to draw on.