Canadian province presents world’s first green budget

February 20th, 2008 - 11:38 am ICT by admin  

Vancouver, Feb 20 (IANS) British Columbia Tuesday became the first province in North America to impose a carbon tax on people to check emission of greenhouse gases. Imposed under its so-called green budget, the carbon tax will be levied not only on vehicle fuels such as petrol, natural gas and diesel but also home heating gases.

Many activists say it is the world’s first green budget. Emissions of greenhouse gases - mainly carbon dioxide - is warming the earth’s atmosphere and leading to climate change, with disastrous consequences.

The surcharge of 2.4 cents per litre, starting July 1, will generate $1.8 billion over the next four years. The rate will go up to 7.2 cents by 2012.

Dressed in a green suit, Finance Minister Carol Taylor unveiled the annual budget with far-reaching implications.

The step is in keeping with the green traditions of this stunningly beautiful province on the west coast of Canada where the global Greenpeace movement was born and where its more than 4.4 million people are very vocal about the dangers of global warming.

Taylor said: “This budget marks a turning point. It overturns the notion that you have to choose either a healthy environment or a strong economy. It takes a big step towards meeting the challenge of climate change.”

The minister also allocated $1 billion over four years for green measures, including $130 million to make the public sector carbon-neutral by 2010, and $98 million to encourage people to make energy-efficient choices in their homes, businesses and vehicles.

Electric motorcycles and hydrogen fuel cell buses will now be exempted from sales tax.

The carbon tax revenue, she said, will be returned to businesses and individuals through tax rebates.

“None of the carbon tax revenue will be used for expenditure programmes. The principle is simple. Tax carbon-emitting fuels to discourage their use, and give the money back to people, back to businesses, so they have control.”

Taylor also announced a so-called $100 Climate Action Dividend to help people adopt greener lifestyles.

They can use this money for buying things that reduce greenhouse emissions, she said.

“We’ve promised you green and today we’ve delivered green,” the minister added.

California is another place in North America that has announced stringent measures for cars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

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