Victoria, British Columbia – The release of B.C.’s Balanced Budget 2008 includes a wide range of new measures to address climate change, promote greener choices and encourage economic investment, including a new revenue-neutral carbon tax on fuels.”This budget marks a turning point,” said Finance Minister Carole Taylor. “It overturns the notion that you have to choose either a healthy environment or a strong economy. It will help keep British Columbia vibrant and growing, it takes a big step toward meeting the challenge of climate change, and it strengthens key public services like health care and education.”

To help reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions by one-third by 2020, the budget includes the carbon tax, and also provides $440 million for a one-time Climate Action Dividend and over $1 billion for a broad range of climate action programs and tax incentives.

Effective July 1, 2008, subject to approval by the legislature, British Columbia will introduce the fully revenue-neutral carbon tax with built-in protection for lower-income British Columbians. The tax will begin at a low rate and increase gradually to give individuals and businesses time to adjust. It will apply to virtually all fossil fuels, including gasoline, diesel, natural gas, coal, propane and home heating fuel, making it among the broadest and most comprehensive in the world. Legislation will require a plan to be tabled in the legislature each year, showing how the revenue raised will be returned to businesses and individuals. None of the carbon tax revenue will be used for expenditure programs; it is expected to generate approximately $1.849 million over three years.

“The principle is simple,” Taylor said. “Tax carbon-emitting fuels to discourage their use, and give the money back to people, back to businesses, so they have control. They can make their own choices about how the tax affects them. At the same time, by making greener choices more commercially viable, it will stimulate innovation and open up new economic opportunities across British Columbia.”

Over four years, the budget will also provide more than $1 billion to encourage energy efficiency, implement new regulatory requirements, undertake research and make low-carbon investments, including such initiatives as up to $2,000 in reduced sales tax on the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles and a new biodiesel production incentive.

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