The Science for Peace Carbon Tax Committee

Since October, a Science for Peace committee has been conducting monthly meetings in a Chinese restaurant to study the pros and cons of a carbon tax. Our goal, from the outset, was a finite one: to prepare ourselves to give presentations to other organizations and promote a carbon tax — though of course if we had come across a better solution, there was no reason not to choose it instead.

Fortunately, several energy experts who do not belong to our organization consented to give talks to us, then they all continued participating until the end. Peter Victor, especially, was a helpful contributor. He and David Bell, another participant, have been deans of the faculty of environmental studies at York University. Peter began by putting us through an experiential role playing event, giving each of us a batch of carbon permits and a budget for our imaginary companies. We learned the “cap and trade” approach by calculating whether to buy or sell our carbon permits to other members of the group, so that every participant’s business firm was better off for trading its rights.

In the end, the group generally came to the view that the carbon tax approach is, overall, preferable to the cap-and-trade system,. We wanted some training so that we could offer this information to community groups, and again Peter Victor came to our rescue. He prepared a PowerPoint presentation (though we had to use paper hand-outs for lack of a projector), and we discussed it at some length.

At about the same time, Lynn McDonald joined our group and asked us to jointly work on circulating a petition, to be submitted to parliament. Unfortunately, she went on a research trip to Britain before we had reached a complete consensus about this petition, though its phraseology has already been approved by parliament, a preliminary phase that seems to be required of all petitions.

In any case, most members of our group feel reasonably prepared to give public talks, using the 20-minute Power Point presentation that has been worked out. We will make a “trial run” at the March board meeting. We also encourage everyone to invite us, individually or as teams, to present it to groups of your friends or any other organization, whose members are concerned about climate change. Phone Helmut Burkhardt (416) 694-8385). Mel Watkins 416-975-0156, Adele Buckley (416) 491-9307), or any other member of the group, or email the Science for Peace office (

Also, in the late spring we may start another similar study group if there is enough demand. Again the purpose will not be merely to learn about carbon taxes for our own personal interest, but as a preparation for political engagement with the issue. Those interested should contact Metta Spencer, the project’s organizer (416/789-2294), before April 13 or after May 20.

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ISSN 1925-170X (Print) | ISSN 1925-1718 (Online)