Cycling for carbon change

What would possess two senior citizens to cycle 350 kilometres in the blazing heat of summer?

Carbon cycle: Keith McNeill and Jean Nelson cycle through Salmon Arm on Sunday

Carbon cycle: Keith McNeill and Jean Nelson cycle through Salmon Arm on Sunday

What would possess two senior citizens to cycle 350 kilometres in the blazing heat of summer?

For Keith McNeill and Jean Nelson from Clearwater, the answer is easy – they are cycling to raise awareness.

“We are both quite concerned about the threat of human-caused climate change and believe that a carbon fee-and-dividend offers the best method to control it,” said McNeill.

The goal of their aptly named long-distance carbon cycle is to promote a carbon fee-and-dividend petition, e-Petition 297.

“There are many Canadians who are concerned about climate change and global warming, but they don’t know what they can do to make a difference,” said McNeill.

The duo headed out on Wednesday, Aug. 3 and cycled through to Kamloops before stopping in Salmon Arm for a rest day. They carried on towards Vernon and then onto their destination in Kelowna, finishing on Aug. 10.

Last year the pair cycled from Toronto to Ottawa to raise awareness.

A carbon fee-and-dividend, such as e-Petition 297 outlines, would require a fee on all fossil fuels similar to a carbon tax. Unlike a tax, however, all of the money collected would not go into general government revenue, but instead would be distributed as equal dividends to the people.

“You might have to pay 10 cents more for every litre of gas, but everyone will get a cheque at the end of the month, which will make people happy,” McNeill said.

British Columbia implemented a carbon tax in 2008 and, by most accounts, it’s been working.

Nelson says amount of fossil fuels being used in the province has gone down while the economy has performed better than the Canadian average.

“Citizens in B.C. have been benefiting indirectly from this tax for a while now,” said Nelson.

“I think implementing a carbon fee-and-dividend would have a positive effect on many Canadian families, and help to improve the level of equality among many.”

There are many proposed solutions and petitions being put forward to battle global warming such as regulation, subsidies, cap-and-trade, geo-engineering; however, carbon fee-and-dividend faces the strongest opposition.

McNeill believes this is because it is the only proposed solution that gets at the root of the problem.

“We have seen the success of both a carbon tax and dividends on their own, but we have never seen them together. It would be a first for anywhere in the world and would be an important step forward for Canada.”

In order for the petition to be reviewed in the House of Commons, the petition needs 500 signatures.

“There are more than 750 now, so it’s just about continuing to raise awareness,” said McNeill.