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Cap and trade policy kicks off Green Living Show

Cap and trade is one of the hottest topics being discussed at economists’ lunch tables, and now they are inviting environmentalists to join in.

A panel discussion was held Friday to kickstart the Green Living Show with economists, professors and lawyers across different fields to help promote an open conversation about the changes to Ontario’s cap and trade policy. The discussion was hosted by Partners in Project Green, an environmental initiative funded by the Toronto Pearson Airport. This group gathers different organizations across sectors to discuss green business initiatives.

Cap and trade is a policy that places a tax on carbon emissions that exceed a certain amount. It is possible to buy and sell carbon credits, giving companies an economic incentive to develop energy saving technologies in the province. This policy will go into full effect in January 2017.

The discussion at the Green Living Show was led by keynote speaker, Christopher Ragan, who is Chair of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission and also a professor at McGill University in the department of Economics. Ragan discussed the challenges of implementing cap and trade in Ontario from an economist’s perspective, but he made sure to mention the potential of this initiative. Lowering greenhouse emissions is a world-wide necessity and the consensus was that cap and trade is the most cost-effective way to manage this problem.

Ragan sees the role of capitalism as pushing the new development of a clean energy model. He also spoke about the importance of working together in the wake of this economic shift to ensure that all industries and provinces can benefit from these changes.

The panel itself included Senior Fellow of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Celine Bak, Managing Director of the Ivey School of Business, Paul Boothe and Professor of Sustainable Prosperity at the University of Ottawa, Stewart Elgie. These three voices provided the perspective of international business relations (Bak), economics (Boothe), and academia (Elgie).

Bak discussed how innovation on cap and trade will strengthen international relations and bring together larger and smaller innovators to increase productivity of new energy resources. Boothe, on the other hand, spoke about how carbon pricing will help promote electric vehicles. The automobile industry has taken a large hit in recent years and Boothe is hopeful the cap and trade policy will boost this sector by encouraging investment in newer green technologies. Elgie emphasized the importance of government intervention in the initial investments of greener technologies so that they could strengthen their profit in the first five years.

The Green Living Show brings innovators and vendors together that are invested in the future of green energy. Hundreds of people attended the event held at the Metro Convention Centre, which just goes to show that environmentalism is being taken seriously by stakeholders, politicians, and the public. I look forward to the changes that cap and trade will bring to the financial landscape of Ontario — I can only hope that it works just as well in practice as it does on paper.