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Carbon tax proposal won’t clean our air

An article in the Red Deer Advocate, Friday, Aug. 1 (Page C4,) reports on the International Monetary Fund’s contention that countries could improve the environment by hiking carbon taxes.

This is a troubling suggestion as Australia has recently rescinded their carbon tax. The tax has left a legacy of polluted air and no significant reduction in greenhouse emission.

The tax raised the cost of heating a home by increasing the cost of natural gas, heating oil and electricity, pushing residents towards heating their homes with wood.

There are so many suppliers of firewood that it is not practical to tax this fuel.

Wood is an incredibly dirty fuel, even when burned in the latest, supposedly low-emission appliances, and the carbon tax has left most Australian urban centres heavily polluted.

There are serious health implications. However, the fact that they do not have winters, as we understand the term, has saved them to some degree.

This is not something we can rely on to mitigate the health impact in Alberta in light of our long, cold winters.

The idea that burning wood is greenhouse neutral is a myth as trees are just as much a store of carbon as fossil fuels. Worse still, unlike burning natural gas, wood burning releases powerful greenhouse entities such as methane and smoke, along with carbon dioxide.

Alberta doctors have raised concerns relating to the emissions from coal-fired power plants. However, the emissions from wood-fired plants are even higher and a carbon tax on fossil fuels will push the province towards burning wood for power generation.

In the U.S., doctors in Vermont are just a few of the voices raised against wood-fired power plants. They note that the state has the highest levels of asthma in the country, possibly as a result of residential wood burning and wood-fired power plants will only compound the problem.

Another concern relating to wood-fired power plants is the tens of thousands of hectares of clear-cut forests surrounding the power plants in the U.S. and Eastern Canada — eliminating more carbon-absorbing trees faster than they will grow back.

Hopefully, the federal and provincial governments will reject the ill-considered International Monetary Fund’s suggestion of carbon taxes.

Alan Smith

Alberta director

Canadian Clean Air Alliance

Red Deer

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