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Climate action group calls for increase in B.C. Carbon Tax

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

(Reuters photo)

(Reuters photo)

A climate action research organization says it's time government raised the provincial carbon tax across B.C. to push dollars into initiatives that benefit the environment instead of more tax cuts.

Under the province's current B.C. Carbon Tax model, the majority of the more than $1 billion in taxation goes into income tax breaks — the largest chunk actually being corporate tax reductions at $450 million for 2012/13.

The tax level has been frozen since 2012 at $30 per tonne, but Tom Pedersen, executive director for the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, said it's time to begin gradually raising it.

And instead of pushing the dollars towards more tax breaks, they should go to green initiatives — funding for environmentally friendly technology, transit expansion and other plans.

"It's time to actively consider reintroduction of the carbon tax in a slow escalation of $5 per tonne per year," Pedersen said.

The tax is collected on fossil fuels — felt primarily by most British Columbians at the pump, though it's also calculated for things such as jet fuel, propane, natural gas and coal.

Pedersen estimated boosting the tax to $55 per tonne would add about seven-cents-per-litre at the pump.

To date, Transportation Minister Todd Stone has said he'd discuss the possibility of a new Metro Vancouver regional carbon tax to fund transit with local mayors.

Using carbon tax to fund projects mean the tax won't be revenue neutral, said West Coast Environmental Law Association's Andrew Gage.

But he said there could be merit in changing the blanket tax breaks right now to targeted reductions given to companies or people working to help the environment.

"It's a lot easier to cut taxes across the board than say this industry is going to get a larger cut that that one ... but if you could do it simply, there would be a lot to be said."  

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