As the public debate continues on whether greenhouse gases contribute to global warming or whether we are going through a natural cycle, enormous political pressure and investment dollars are streaming into the solutions aspect of the debate. Discussions in North America on environmental policy and economic benefits are steaming ahead at all levels of government and in the corporate board room.
Putting the debate aside, creating a carbon market that stimulates activity to address climate change provides everyone an opportunity to participate. Whether it is cap and trade, carbon taxes or carbon tariffs, a business case will drive change especially if the end consumer does its talking with its wallet.
Remember the 1980’s acid rain directives and its positive effect on our environment? A call to action not only addressed the pressing issue of air emissions particularly in the Great Lakes region, but presented a solid business case to corporations. This movement, like climate change, drove companies to become more efficient in their operations, leading to improved environmental performance overall. Significant economic gains were made asl well dueto technological solutions.
The same opportunity can be seen with the climate change movement. Not only can we reduce greenhouse gases but many of the technology solutions and behavioural changes in our day to day activities that are encouraged by a carbon-constrained economy will also reduce criteria air contaminants (CAC). This category includes some nasty emissions, such as lead and other chemical soups with names that I don’t dare to attempt to say or spell! These chemical contribute to smog, respiratory issues and various illnesses and discomforts.
The buck stops when the consumer’s awareness and behaviour means they are being more selective. If climate change and carbon markets are the mechanism to address GHGs but also directly reduce other air pollution contaminants we face as a society, I say “I’m all in”.
Don’t let the public debate and political posturing cloud the issue. An economic stimulus is required to invoke significant change that will have widespread environmental benefits beyond greenhouse gases. Carbon markets fit the bill.