Monday, May 12, 2008

Keeping Carbon Taxes Visible

Can a tax aimed at achieving a social objective be effective if it's invisible?

That seems to be a stumbling block on carbon taxes on gasoline. Last week I filled up the VW with regular at a breathtaking $1.27 a litre. That afternoon I saw the price had jumped to $1.32.

That's five cents a litre in the course of as many hours. When I saw that, I sure wasn't thinking of the 3-4 cents a litre carbon tax BC levies. I was wondering where the overall price was going to be six months down the road.

Surely any sin tax is much more meaningful when you recognize you're paying it. But when that sin tax is utterly submerged in much larger market fluctuations, there's an "out of sight/out of mind" element that comes into play.

I support a carbon tax to discourage wasteful use of fossil fuels leading to unnecessary release of greenhouse gases. I'm just not sure the pump is the best possible place to be collecting it when fuel prices are predicted to just keep increasing in the foreseeable future.

It may be there is no better way but I'd like to see someone explore alternatives.


Anonymous said...

If you think people will be feeling it at the pumps, wait until the dead of winter and people can't afford to heat their homes. I know seniors in Toronto who couldn't afford to heat their homes already. Seniors who were applying to the city to have their heat paid. I don't know how other municipalities handle this already but I can assure you that Toronto won't be able to handle the massive increase in applications that will come in should a carbon tax go ahead. I realize people outside of Toronto hate us, but this city has been suffering since then finance minister Martin downloaded to provinces and the Harrisites dumped even more on to the cities.

The Mound of Sound said...

I don't see any need to place carbon taxes on home heating fuel. It's world oil prices that will hammer that problem home and there are limited options to responding to that.

I'm not sure that people outside of Toronto hate you. Out here at least we never think of the place much less hate it or its people. I hate that you have to breathe that befouled air but I certainly don't hate Torontonians.