On June 4th, Sustainable Prosperity, in partnership with the French, Norwegian and German Embassies, brought together two of the most interesting panels in our history – including former Quebec Premier, the Hon. Jean Charest; former Finance Minister of Norway, Kristin Halvorsen; and former Environment Minister of France, Brice Lalonde - to talk about politics, climate change and carbon pricing . As if that wasn’t enough, we partnered these former politicians with three prominent political-theory academics – Kathryn Harrison (UBC); Michael Mehling (MIT); and Matthew Paterson (uOttawa) – who provided insights on the politics of climate change but from an academic theory lens.

The question: "In 20 seconds or less, what would be the one thing – politically - that you need to make carbon pricing succeed?"

The Hon. Jean Charest: Leadership. In any given government, you need someone who is going to pick it up [the climate change challenge] and say this is something I'm/We're going to do!...and then it should go from there. Any project of any substance needs someone who owns it and drives it...otherwise things don't happen.

Kristen Halvorsen: Address how a carbon tax is going to affect low-income families. This is the main argument you get against carbon taxes. This is why I believe in swaps between income/business taxes and green taxes. Another major mistake - which is often done - is that for common voters it sounds as if the tax is a goal in itself. We should remember that the tax is just a tool and not the main goal [reduce emissions].

Brice Lalonde: All the others are doing it, so don't be the last one! [to implement carbon pricing]

Matthew Paterson: Identify who the clear winners in civil society are from carbon pricing policy. Who would gain from that public policy economically?

Michael Mehling: What improves the prospect of any climate policy is to have a firm commitment to climate action. Once stakeholders realize there's no way out, there should be a discussion about what is the most sufficient way of reaching it [climate action commitment]. And that way is usually through carbon pricing.

Kathryn Harrison: Border Tax Adjustments....by doing this they [other countries] will adopt their own [carbon pricing mechanisms] and get to keep the money.

Although many political and business leaders understand the scale of threats posed by a changing climate, they also acknowledge how difficult it is to implement the necessary policies to move towards a low carbon economy. The objective of the symposium was to talk about these challenges, but also to learn - from successful examples around the world - how to overcome them. Not an easy task, but not an impossible one either!

If you could not attend the symposium or missed the live webcast, don't worry, you can now watch the videos of the panels and final afternoon discussion here.