Tag Archives: policy conference

Amy Taylor – Nuts And Bolts of ETS

The following is one post in a series: “Reporting Back: Green Party of Canada Policy Conference, Halifax

Amy Taylor from the Pembina Institute presented on the details of how Environmental Tax Shifting should be implemented. The goal is to internalize costs, and can be accomplished in a number of ways, including regulation, trade permits, and environmental pricing, which includes subsidy removal, taxes, charges and user fees.

There are three kinds of ETS:

  1. Broad. For example, a shift from income tax to consumption tax.
  2. Sector Specific. This shift occurs within one industry, so that taxes are reinvested to make that industry more efficient and environmentally responsible.
  3. Individual reform. For example, deposits on beer bottles.

The good news is, other countries have already tested this stuff out and shown that it works, so we don’t have to jump before we look. (Come to think of it, that’s also bad news, because it means we’re already behind.) For example, Germany increased a fossil fuels tax while decreasing employment insurance charges. Sweden gives efficiency rebates to those who purchase more energy efficient vehicles.

Taylor concluded with two lists. First, things we should conceder taxing (or taxing more): water consumption, municipal waste, green house gas emissions, motor vehicle pollution, deforestation. Second, taxes we could reduce: income, capital, property, payroll charges, sales taxes.

Andrew Van Iterson – Green Budget Coalition

The following is one post in a series: “Reporting Back: Green Party of Canada Policy Conference, Halifax

Andrew Van Iterson is a former Green Party candidate, and as such it’s not surprising that he built on what Amy had said by explaining how to sell the tax shift. If this is going to be successful, some key elements will be:

  • Transparent revenue neutrality. ETS can’t be seen as a tax grab, and it needs to be very clear to everyone which taxes are going up and which ones are going down.
  • Most Canadians should have no net increase in their tax burden.
  • Promote the benefits and the long term advantages of ETS.
  • ETS needs to be phased-in and predictable so that there’s less of a price shock. Advanced knowledge also contributes to long-term planning. (See the Income Trust announcement as an example of what not to do.)
  • Account for regional (provincial) differences. Different taxes are going to hit different regions in different ways, and we need to be aware of and sensitive to that.
  • Any exemptions to ETS must be conditional on performance achievements, investments or covenants. Don’t exempt the most polluting industries, as has sometimes happened in Europe.

Transparency is helped by ensuring that at least a portion of funds collected through environmental taxes are recycled back into prominent environmental programs so that the public can see clear benefits.

Van Iterson also emphasized the importance of ensuring that ETS (for example, a differentiated energy tax) does not hit the poor harder. He suggested rebate cheques (along the lines of existing GST rebates) and reduced income tax at lowest brackets. Businesses should be provided with R&D funding for developing technologies, reducing pollution and increasing efficiency. Recycled funds should be targeted to the hardest-hit sectors, based on production.

It should also be emphasized that research suggests that ETS does not hurt competitiveness. The biggest thing that’s needed now is political leadership and advanced research, so that ETS can be sold on a very practical, “how does it affect me” level.

Paul Lansbergen – Forest Products Association of Canada

The following is one post in a series: “Reporting Back: Green Party of Canada Policy Conference, Halifax

I’m proud that the Green Party invited someone from the forestry industry to speak at our conference. That’d be sort of like the Conservatives inviting a guest speaker from EGALE or OCAP, or the NDP inviting the Fraser Institute. Lansbergen was funny about it, too. “Hello,” he began his presentation, “my name is Paul and I represent a large final emitter.”

The point was to understand how these policy changes were going to affect different industries, using forest products as an example. Lansbergen told us that his industry is currently taxed more than the oil or mining industries, even though they’re arguably less-damaging. He also gave statistics on how much of the Canadian forest products industry meets various certifications (including FSC), and how far ahead we are of some other countries. Without giving specifics, he claimed that his industry has already met Kyoto “five-times over.”

Overall, Lansbergen’s argument was that good behaviour needs to be recognized and rewarded by government, and that the effect of any policies on the economy and jobs must be seriously considered.

Workshop Recommendations

The following is one post in a series: “Reporting Back: Green Party of Canada Policy Conference, Halifax

After hearing all five presentations, we broke out into five workshops, which were tasked with making policy recommendations (not policy resolutions) to the party. The following are my notes of each workshop’s recommendations.

Environmental Tax Shifting And Energy

Five Recommendations

Need a broad-based approach.

  1. Eliminate the tax breaks related to the fossil fuel industry. Use them to push for alternative energy. Subsidies should be used to help industries get started or though tough times.
  2. Increase to 100% Accelerated Capital Cost allowances for Low Impact removal’s with a sunset clause (this is an initial investment to get the industry started, with the idea that the market will make the sources viable at a later date).
  3. Suite of Environmental Taxes (IA. Free bates for vehicles, carbon taxes, conserve public ownership of rail beds). One of the problems facing rail is that the beds are owned by private companies, which means levies are put on them. Carbon taxes and consumption taxes should modify the public’s habits to conserve more energy and use more efficient processes.
  4. institute programs for increasing energy efficiency in all sectors. Work with provinces, but Natural Resources Canada has a role.
  5. Establish measurable targets for emissions reductions.

Persuading the Public and Diminishing Resistance

Intergovernmental relationships; need to foster relationships. Also, with unions, corporations, corporate accounting firms.
Media tends to favour the status quo.
Need to make people sense the urgency without feeling hopeless.
Working in an international context.

Internet / educational videos.
Contests to generate advertising levels
Target messaging to groups (unions, corporations)
Pilot tax-shifting projects (house-wide, village-wide) to show how it actually affects different people.
Work at the riding level with specific examples

Scare tactics can be effective, but have we had our fill? It’s more constructive to present solutions. Do some A/B (you can choose this or that) advertising. (“This is your planet. This is your planet on oil. Any questions?”)
Candidate must be well-versed to speak to specific issues in their riding.
Must talk to children about the larger issues, even if they can’t understand the complexities of ETS.

Make sure that it’s non-partisan. Must appeal to uniquely human values. Make it simple, don’t overload people with information. Needs to be a phased-in education system. Training programs to make sure that people who might lose their jobs under ETS can find new employment.

Where to shift taxes to? What sectors?

Tax the negatives to decrease harmful activity.

Taxes must be recycled within the same industry. (Exception: education.)

Use GPI sectors and indicators to guide us.

It was a difficult mission to say only “where to,” because we wanted to look at the whole picture.

Specific sectors: health, agriculture, energy.

Education of more health=-care workers
Preventive medicine and education
Recreational activity
Mental health

Organic soil is important. Farmers must be supported. Indicators must be created.
Local farm markets are crucial.
Need for organic certification.
Support for natural areas (biodiversity and carbon sequestration)
Need to change behaviour.

Research and development.
There is a public and private aspect, which will have different recommendations. (Applies to all categories.)
Need income tax reduction and rebate for lower-income people.
Green energy infrastructure.


We have to live at a level that others can achieve. Live with a lower standard of living. Shorter work-week, with more leisure time.

The Green Party should say that “no growth” is the number one priority. (David Orton) Explain how it will benefit combating global warming. (Other suggestion: we should have no specific policy on growth.)

We need to establish principals and create constituencies, not just campaign during the election.
The values of the green party do have a lot of support. Need to focus on PR.

Houses need to be built with a longer life span.

Growth in the form of the GDP is not a measure of wellbeing. It should therefore not be the focus of public policy. We need multiple measures that have been developed and identified. We need to focus on the GDP and livelihood.


Disclaimer: Forests are a provincial jurisdiction.

  1. GPC needs to develop a long-range view: minimally 60-100 years, more optimally 7 generations or more. In terms of thinking about what the forests could generate and what their value is. For example: biodiversity, multiple uses of the forest and its products.
  2. Research. Call for GPI analysis of Canada’s forests. There is no national knowledge. We also need to research examples of best forestry practices in Canada and world wide
  3. Tax shift to favour selective cutting. Highest levels of certification would favour social and environmental value. Favour smaller stakeholders vs. larger. Restoration of forests. Development of near markets. Stumpage rates should be different province to province. Diversify markets, internally and externally. Create higher value-added products and non-fiber products (mushrooms, bark, acorns, nuts).
    **NAFTA means we can’t do a lot of this stuff, but it’s still a good idea and we should still try.**
  4. Work on aligning levels of government. Statement of national principal/value that the provinces can work to.
  5. Focus effort on achieving a balance with industry and workers. Think about what this industry means to us and value both the environment and the humans who are involved in the industry; work towards the benefits of both.