Why doctors argue ‘carbon pricing’ can ‘cure’ climate change
Doctors and economists may seem like strange partners. We spend our days working on very different problems in very different settings. But climate change has injected a common and urgent vocabulary into our work. We find ourselves agreeing both about the nature of the problem and the best solution. It’s essential that we put a price on carbon pollution.
For doctors across Canada, the evidence at the bedside is increasingly hard to ignore: climate change poses a serious health risk.
Emergency physician Edward Xie has worked in Toronto for over 10 years. Lately, he’s seen more patients anxious about tick bites. It’s no wonder. A recent medical study shows a fivefold increase in Lyme disease cases in Ontario between 2012 and 2017 as ticks expand their habitat northward.
Dr. Xie also notices more cases of heat exhaustion and dehydration in summer months — particularly among elderly and low-income individuals who lack adequate housing. In Toronto alone, heat already contributes to an estimated 120 deaths each year. The city expects that number to grow
The provincial premiers who took Ottawa to court over the carbon tax have seen it blow up in their faces.
Just look at what Ontario’s Court of Appeal said on Friday, in crisp legal prose, and in black and white. First, the federal government’s carbon-levy “backstop” is perfectly within Ottawa’s jurisdiction. And second, it’s not a tax – it is a regulatory charge tied to the purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG.)
The Ontario court didn’t just smack back the challenge presented by Premier Doug Ford’s government, it wrote its opinion in paragraphs that could be lifted and inserted into the federal Liberals’ social-media ads. And probably will be.
The Ontario finding came on top of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal’s knockdown of that province’s challenge in May. That’s not the final word – Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has already appealed to the Supreme Court, and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is taking it to court, too.
But the politically crucial thing is this: the score, as it stands at the outset of the federal election campaign, is two-to-zero for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon levy.
The provincial carbon-tax opponents – Mr. Ford, Mr. Moe and Mr. Kenney – had dreamed of derailing Mr. Trudeau’s carbon-pricing plan just before the October election. That would have been a body blow to the federal Liberals. Mr. Trudeau’s grand bargain on energy and environment, in which he promised both pipelines to get oil to market and action on GHGs, would be in tatters. The Liberal government would be scrambling.
Instead, it has two advertisements for the federal plan written by judges. And they wrote them at the invitation of Messrs. Ford and Moe.