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Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press

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Saving the planet: carbon pricing and other solutions

Your editorial about the carbon tax (please say “carbon levy”) was brilliant (Ottawa’s Carbon Tax Wins, Again, July 3).

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I would only add one thing, a truism taught to me many years ago by a particularly inspiring economics professor: “If you want more of something, subsidize it. If you want less, tax it.” We want less carbon in the atmosphere. Ergo, make it more expensive to pollute.

Now, I know some people who drive gigantic trucks fear they may end up paying more to drive even after the rebate (which the Conservatives conveniently forget to mention). This is the point, people. Suck it up and look for a more eco-friendly vehicle next time. It doesn’t have to be zero emissions, just lower emissions.

Diane Bond, Kelowna, B.C.

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It is generally agreed that a well-designed carbon pricing system can contribute to emissions reduction; however, Canada’s system is far from well-designed.

First, there is little consistency in its implementation. There are four carbon pricing systems in Atlantic Canada, each applying different prices to the same fuels. Even the federal carbon-pricing system (affecting Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick) has a lower price-per-tonne for electricity generated in New Brunswick than in the other provinces.

Second, while it is true that the money collected in the federal system will be returned to most taxpayers, Canadians must absorb the costs of the carbon price and then wait up to a year before they receive a rebate. This will be an added burden to those Canadians already in, or facing the prospect of, energy poverty.

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These shortcomings should have been recognized and addressed before the federal government announced its decisions on provincial carbon-pricing systems last October.

Larry Hughes, professor and founding fellow, MacEachen Institute, Dalhousie University, Halifax

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax is neither good environmental policy nor good tax policy. The carbon tax is classic Liberal income redistribution dressed up as planet-saving science.

By giving back the proceeds of the tax to most of the people who have been taxed, the carbon tax fails to change behaviour because the net price of carbon does not increase enough to drive a change in consumption. Nor does the carbon tax create a pool of investment funds that could be invested in environmental technologies.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and his party have missed the mark, too, in opposing the carbon tax. The Conservative environmental plan lacks timelines and targets. You cannot manage what you cannot or will not measure.

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When the Conservative plan surely fails, Mr. Scheer will be unable to retreat to the market mechanism of carbon pricing because of his foolish rush to abandon the carbon tax simply to be different from Mr. Trudeau.

Paul Clarry, Aurora, Ont.

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In all the letters on climate change this week, not one mentioned the findings of a 2017 article in IOPscience (Climate Change, And The Livin’ Ain’t Easy, July 2).

Authors Seth Wynes and Kimberly A. Nicholas suggest “four widely applicable high-impact (i.e. low emissions) actions with the potential to contribute to systemic change and substantially reduce annual personal emissions.”

The problem is that the recommendations are neither as easy nor as likely to be popular as “commonly promoted strategies like comprehensive recycling ... or changing household lightbulbs.” What four things can we all do to slow climate change?

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– Have one fewer child.

– Live car-free.

– Avoid airplane travel.

– Eat a plant-based diet.

The problem has been, and will always be, that people don’t wish to do the inconvenient thing now in favour of saving the planet later.

Mary Taslimi, Waterdown, Ont.

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Among all the excellent letters about saving our planet, I was surprised that no one mentioned planned obsolescence. When my 24-year-old fridge needed replacing, I was told that the “mid-priced” appliance I was considering would last eight to 10 years. I tripled my budget to get one that would last 20 to 30 years.

Our current economy is based on purchasing the newest, latest product and it often has a short shelf life. When will we return to taking pride in longevity?

Anita Gruenwald Balter, Toronto

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It is disheartening to me that about three-quarters of Canadians would not spend more than about $100 a year on countering the climate crisis (The Liberals Need A Message To Rally Voters – But It Likely Won’t Be Climate Change, July 2).

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Aren’t there many small, inexpensive purchases that are easy for most to drop? For example, an extra daily coffee and treat cost at least 10 times more than this.

Surely leaving our grandchildren a livable climate and an enjoyable existence is worth far more than about 27 cents a day. Do we really value their quality of life so little? The prospect of the Liberals using this warped voter priority to mould climate policy demoralizes me.

Doug Seeley, Victoria

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The Ontario Court of Appeal got it right when it comes to the federal government’s constitutional power to levy a carbon tax, but much of their ruling shows they still don’t get it when it comes to global warming (Carbon-Tax Court Challenge Backfires Before Election, June 29).

Referring to the Atlantic provinces and northern territories, the court declared: “Without a collective national response, all they can do is prepare for the worst.” The fact is, even with a collective national response, all of Canada’s provinces will still have to prepare for the worst.

Look at Germany. Renewable energy sources supplied nearly 65 per cent of its electricity one recent week; as a result, fossil fuel plants ran at a minimum output and nuclear facilities were shut down at night. Nevertheless, Germany is suffering from a record heat wave with temperatures approaching 40 C, pavements are buckling, and railroad tracks are twisting. That’s the thing about global warming: It really is global.

Murray Reiss, Salt Spring Island, B.C.

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Call it what it is. As the Ontario Court of Appeal stated in its recent decision confirming the federal government’s power to put a price on carbon, it “is not technically a carbon tax.”

Let’s be honest: It is a carbon price. Time to change the terminology to reflect reality. Carbon price is the real name.

John Sewell, Toronto

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