Standing on the plaza “chasing the sun” north of the Olympic flame, federal NDP leadership candidate Thomas Mulcair told reporters he was unveiling two things.
First up, he was flanked by Andrew Weaver, Canada research chair in climate modelling at the University of Victoria. Weaver was endorsing Mulcair’s leadership, mainly because the Outremont MP and former Quebec environment minister announced today (December 8) that he will push for a cap-and-trade system nationwide if he wins the leadership race to replace the late Jack Layton.
Weaver noted on climate change, “We’ve spent a lot of time over the years talking about the problem, and when we have leadership like this, I think it’s very important to support them, and that’s why I am here today.”
Mulcair responded, “Professor Weaver’s endorsement of my leadership campaign is one of the most important elements to date.”
Then Mulcair roundly criticized the Conservative government’s inaction on the issue, before he got down to the business at hand, outlining the ways that his plan for cap-and-trade differed from the federal Liberals’ carbon-tax proposal under Stéphane Dion’s tenure.
Thomas Mulcair on the need for action on greenhouse gas emissions.
“Well there’s a big difference between the two,” Mulcair added. “A carbon tax is just that, and it can be an interesting addition. In other words, there are several provinces right now that have carbon taxes, B.C. and Quebec among them. That’s one way of giving an incentive to produce fewer greenhouse gases. But the only way to ensure that result is to have a cap-and-trade system. One can complement the other, but a carbon tax in and of itself cannot guarantee the result of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why you have a cap-and-trade system as well.”
Mulcair said it would do this by putting a price on emissions.
“You’ll have to have an auction, starting in the level of 730 to 750 megatonnes in Canada,” Mulcair said. “You auction that off, and then you do what you did with SO2 [acid rain], you start reducing the ceiling. And then it becomes an economic driver. Companies will either have to come up with the methods to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, or buy credits on that market, and those become trade-offs for the companies in question.”
Mulcair said he was confident industry would respond to government-imposed rules, and suggested they would respond less to their own self-regulation or voluntary action.
Thomas Mulcair on cap and trade.