Monday, April 01, 2019

Carbon Taxes and Other Meaningless Gestures

The Liberal government's carbon tax comes into effect today in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. In those provinces, Ottawa will be levying new taxes on fossil fuels.
Based on federal figures, the tax in the four non-compliant provinces will result in an approximate cost increase of 4.42 cents a litre for gasoline, 5.37 cents for light fuel oil (home heating fuel), 3.91 cents per cubic metre for natural gas and 3.10 cents per litre for propane.
Wow, 20 dollars a tonne. Some sources contend that, to be effective, carbon taxes must reach about 300 dollars a tonne.

It's not just the paltry amount of the tax (even BC is just $35 per tonne) but what is done with the money raised on fossil energy sales.
To compensate for the cost of living increase, the federal government has vowed to return every single dollar it collects in carbon tax to the people in the province in which it was collected — an attempt to make household budgets whole on the money they'll shell out as part of this carbon reduction scheme. 
In fact, some Canadians are already set to receive the 'Climate Action Incentive payment', or rebate. It's paid to eligible taxpayers who claim it on their 2018 tax return with the Canada Revenue Agency.
For most people it's just moving food around on a plate. You pay at the pump, the government sends you a cheque. The government could do something useful with that money such as investing in climate change adaptation - infrastructure, etc.

The other problem is that climate taxes were a fine idea a decade ago when the British Columbia government first went that route but we're not in 2008 any longer.

The IPCC, hopeless cradle of climate change optimism, has warned if we're to have a decent chance of averting runaway global warming we must achieve a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. This carbon tax will not take us to that level, not even close.  Our government has no plan that would meet that 50 by 2030 requirement. They're not even going to try.


Owen Gray said...

Here in Ontario, Mound, Doug Ford shouts that any tax is too much. And he got rid of a program which invested in mitigating the climate crisis. Things are falling apart.

The Mound of Sound said...

There's an evil lurking within people such as Trump and Ford. They build nothing but tear down much of what was built by others before them as though destruction was a virtue unto itself.

Toby said...

A carbon tax is a meaningless gesture when our various governments are heavily subsidizing oil, gas and coal industries. This is just smoke and mirrors.

Anonymous said...

The subsidizing of corporations is the reason for the carbon has nothing to do with saving the regular tax paying citizen of this country anything. They would prefer something hit us and we all died off. All the more for the Politicians and their henchmen to enjoy from this earth and all of it tax free. Throw out a bone or two for those few who are worthy of a low life job making sure the wealthy life is running without having to lift a finger doing domestic tasks or anything beneath them. Ask Jason Kenny. He tell you how it is done. Anyong

Purple library guy said...

It's way too small and, despite all the yacking of the small-l liberals, market solutions aren't a very efficient way to get the job done. The reason is that demand for fossil fuels is quite inelastic; many of the things people use fossil fuels to do don't have readily available substitutes and are pretty necessary. Getting to work/shopping or heating your home, for instance. In theory, you could buy a new car or a new home heating system--but those are big up-front costs. Justifying them would take a really big price difference between fossil fuel and non-fossil-fuel approaches . . . and worse yet, the point at which you can justify switching because fossil fuels are way too expensive is precisely the point at which you're too broke to switch because fossil fuels are way too expensive.
Renters of course have no control over home heating in the first place.

So yeah. Direct government action is far more effective. Direct government action doing the opposite of, say, buying and building new pipelines.

All that said, the carbon tax/rebate thing isn't terrible in itself. Everyone gets the same rebate, I expect. So if you're taking transit and have a heat pump for home heating or something, you're not paying much carbon tax, but you still get the same rebate, so you're making money. So the incentive, such as it is, doesn't actually go away. Plus, the result is slightly progressive, since rich people tend to use more fossil fuels than poor people but, again, will get the same rebate.

Hugh said...

In BC people pay carbon tax on natural gas used to heat their homes.

The idea is to discourage the use of natural gas, since it emits GHGs.

At the same time, the BC Govt's plan is to do whatever it can to help foreign companies extract and export BC natural gas as LNG, so it can be burned elsewhere.