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Some federal Conservatives are reportedly interested in finding “red tape obstacles to a green economy”.  At one level, this is good news; I’m glad to hear of any government trying to build a green economy. The International Energy Agency issued an extraordinarily bleak report last week about the continuing growth in infrastructure for a fossil fuel economy, rendering it more and more difficult to avoid massive and devastating climate disruption.  In this context, any meaningful steps towards a green economy would be welcome.

Unfortunately, the major federal obstacles to a green economy are not “red tape”, i.e. regulations, but economics. As long as pollution (carbon and otherwise) is free, regulation won’t do much to prevent it. This has been banged home by the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, even by the president of the Royal Bank of Canada: the essential, fundamental, and indispensible national contribution to a green economy would be putting a price on carbon.  Other economic instruments are secondary, but still important, such as tax incentives (eg accelerated capital cost allowance for energy conservation; wind power production credits,)  etc.   Conservatives, who believe in the power of the market, should recognize that “red tape” almost never trumps economics.

But I could be wrong. If you have great ideas on federal “Red tape” obstacles to a green economy, please post them!


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