British Columbia introduces carbon tax

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The British Columbia (BC) government says it will start to phase in a revenue-neutral carbon tax that will apply to virtually all fossil fuels by July 1. The tax plan was unveiled as part of the recently released 2008 provincial budget, which also committed more than C$1 billion over four years for various climate change initiatives, including funding to develop a cap-and-trade system for large greenhouse gas emitters. The tax, says the government, will help make greener choices more commercially viable. "In order to continue to ensure that the economy remains competitive, the government has introduced a net reduction in overall taxes in this budget. Moreover, increasing the price of carbon, through the carbon tax, will also send more appropriate price signals to the market that make the development of alternative energy sources, such as wind power, more economically attractive," states the budget document. The province has introduced legislation calling for greenhouse gas emissions reductions of at least 33% below 2007 levels by 2020. The David Suzuki Foundation, a Vancouver-based environmental organisation, lauded the carbon tax as a "visionary step" that puts the province at the forefront of North American action on climate change. "Economists say a fee on carbon emissions will help spur innovation, investment and jobs in BC's rapidly growing clean energy sector. It will also get these new, clean, renewable energy technologies into use and reduce our emissions," states the foundation.

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