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2005-01-14

Harris questions Martin's credibility on Kyoto

Emissions

A Green Party government would implement fiscal tools through the Finance Department - measures once endorsed by Paul Martin himself before becoming Finance Minister.

(Montreal, 14 January 2005) -- Paul Martin must exercise political leadership and admit that he ignored policy tools that would have helped Canada reach its Kyoto target first during his term as Finance Minister and now as Prime Minister, said Green Party of Canada leader Jim Harris today.

Harris' comments follow reports of a leaked federal document entitled Climate Change - Lessons Learned and Future Directions. According to the Globe and Mail, the document outlines the inadequacy of voluntary approaches in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and highlights the need for stronger regulations and financial incentives to reduce emissions from vehicles and industry.

"The current tax structure does not take into account the ongoing environmental and human health costs of burning fossil fuels," explains Harris. "The Green Party's gradual tax shift will ensure that those who fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality will be forced to pay the additional costs through increased taxation, thereby making sustainable practices more competitive."

A Green Party government would implement fiscal tools through the Finance Department - measures once endorsed by Paul Martin himself before becoming Finance Minister. As Liberal opposition critic on the environment, Martin penned a report in 1992 calling for taxes on pollution and fuel inefficiency. He also suggested introducing clean air and clean water indicators, acknowledging the inadequacy of purely financial indicators in measuring economic well being.

Germany and Sweden have used fiscal tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower pollution levels. Rather than hinder economic growth, these measures have increased energy efficiency and sparked job growth in these countries. The Economist magazine reports that, "By embracing Kyoto, the EU might just have given its businesses an edge in the race towards clean energy," noting the financial payback for BP (British Petroleum) reaching its target 8 years ahead of schedule.

"The government has backed itself into a corner in trying to satisfy the needs of industry at the expense of the Canadian public. If Canada is going to reach its Kyoto targets, we must start penalizing the worst polluters and encourage best practices with fiscal incentives. What better time to make these changes than in the federal budget expected by March 2005."

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