Gordon Nixon, CEO of the Royal Bank and Chair of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, is now calling on Canada to get serious about climate change, and to put a price on carbon. This astonishing conversion of the business community comes less than two months after Stephane Dion was sent packing for proposing the same thing. Nixon was speaking to the annual Pollution Probe gala, and his speech is now published.
It’s time to put a price on carbon.
If we want businesses and individuals to change their behaviour— and we do— we must consider market-based mechanisms such as emissions trading or environmental taxation.
I should mention that the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, of which I’m currently Chair, has done some good, objective work in this area.
Even at the best of times, it’s not easy to reach consensus about the best path forward on an issue as complex as climate change. Our Task Force on Environmental Leadership, comprising 33 CEOs from all industries across Canada, was no exception. While we have not come out with a preference for emissions trading or taxation, we do agree that whatever policy instruments the government comes up with must be transparent, stable and predictable.
Ottawa and the provinces must agree on a coherent policy framework and a common set of principles so that business and consumers across Canada are treated equally.
We’ll also need a similar, coordinated approach to water in Canada, where a patchwork of overlapping responsibilities is complicated by the lack of a strong, overarching national water strategy and a history of undervaluing the worth of water.
Now that the chief executives of Canada’s major companies are calling for carbon pricing, can Stephen Harper be far behind?