Thursday, January 21, 2010

An Ugly Word that will Change the World

Tax. Nothing sends shivers down the spines of North Americans more than that word. I suppose ‘tax’ has always been considered vile, but decades of conservative promises to squelch taxes have brought about a fresh new revulsion to the word. President Bush kept his word to cut tax even during a war. Where did that get him? Two terms in office. Where did that leave America? Trillions of dollars in debt.

It’s really unfortunate that the one thing that will truly bring about a clean tech revolution is the very thing that politicians promise to avoid.

The green tax. Put a price tag on carbon (while reducing income tax), and see the world transform. Once the true cost of carbon intense products and services is reflected in the price tag, the demand for low carbon commodities will spike. And innovation will soar. That means more industry, more jobs and more market diversity. We’ve seen it happen in Denmark. Its unemployment rate is four percent. It’s one of the lead exporters of wind technology, and its economy is one of the strongest in the world. They’ve had a green tax for years.

With all the work that I and others like me do in reducing our carbon footprints, we know that it doesn’t even scratch the surface in reducing greenhouse gas emissions when governments provide little incentive for others to follow suit.

Economists, environmentalists and some journalists such as Thomas Friedman (Hot, Flat and Crowded) are calling upon governments to tax carbon if we are serious about ushering in the low carbon economy.

The transition will be rough. The payoff will be worth it. We just have to trust. Tell your provincial and federal representatives that you support a green tax, because the more Canada relies on dirty tar sands to drive its economy the less our economy diversifies. Our manufacturing sector suffers as a result of the strong petro dollar, and with all that investment in ‘clean coal’ we simply will not be prepared for the green tech revolution. And it is upon us. Make no mistake. The countries that will benefit the most are the early adaptors, like Denmark and Germany, which lead the way in wind and solar exports. China, for all its belly aching about setting greenhouse gas targets, is starting to flex its green tech muscle. To read more, check out the following:

Economy of the Future, Alex Wood. The Mark.

Who’s Sleeping Now?, Thomas Friedman. The New York Times

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