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Broad support across BC for carbon tax: Pembina report

British Columbia's carbon tax is broadly supported by businesspeople, academics, local governments and environmentalists, indicates a new Pembina Institute report.

"With the province undertaking a carbon tax review, and seemingly stalled on the next steps in its climate change plan, these findings will hopefully reinvigorate their efforts," the non-partisan group's climate change program director, Matt Horne, said in a press release.

The Pembina report, released Monday, summarized 39 confidential interviews with provincial insiders representing a broad range of perspectives and experiences.

Nearly half of the respondents said they felt "somewhat positive" about B.C.'s carbon pricing polices, while a further 18 percent described their viewpoint as "very positive."

What's more, the report noted, interviewees broadly agreed that, "Carbon taxes are one of the important policies government can rely on to minimize the risk represented by climate change."

That assessment contrasts sharply with the position of the federal Conservative government, whose foreign affairs minister recently told Parliament that a national carbon tax "would kill and hurt Canadian families."

B.C. implemented North America's first economy-wide carbon tax in 2008, placing a $10 per tonne charge on about three-quarters of the province's greenhouse gas emissions.

The price rose in $5 increments every year until the province announced it would be capped at $30 per tonne this July.

That decision was met with outrage by environmentalists, who accused B.C. policymakers of backtracking on the province's climate change commitments. (Indeed, the Pembina report concluded the price will have to go much higher to effect substantial CO2 reductions).

Any changes to B.C.'s carbon tax, which is now under provincial review, are expected to be announced in the 2013 budget.

The Tyee reported last week on why leading oil sands producers, alongside more than 150 major Canadian corporations, support a national price on the country's carbon emissions.

Geoff Dembicki reports on energy and climate change for The Tyee.

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