I believe this is in fact simply a gas tax that will have no impact on climate change or reducing global warming but will definitely reduce the income of ordinary British Columbians, particularly in the northern and rural parts of the province.
The gas tax will start at 2.4 cents a litre in July and rising to 7.2 cents in 2012. If you want some idea how ineffective that will be, consider that gas prices have gone up about 15 cents a litre in the last two months.
But more importantly, this gas tax is a disguised corporate tax cut paid for by you and I. It is decidedly not revenue neutral, as Premier Gordon Campbell and Finance Minister Carole Taylor have claimed.
As I said in a previous 24 hours column:
When you take the $1.8 billion to be generated over three years from the allegedly neutral carbon tax and follow the money trail, it pays for tax breaks that go to the B.C. Liberals' business supporters.
A full $415 million goes to cutting the corporate income tax rate from 12 per cent to 10 per cent by 2011.
Another $255 million is the cost of reducing the small business tax from 4.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent in 2011.
And then banks and financial institutions get a $220-million tax break because the corporate capital tax will be eliminated.
These business tax cuts more than dwarf the $440 million cost of the "Climate Action Dividend" every British Columbian will receive just once. And they go on indefinitely.
Environmentalists who support this gas tax should explain how people with no access to public transit, or limited access that does not meet their needs, and limited income will be helped by paying more for gas to drive the same distance while big business gets a tax cut. And how it helps to have those same big businesses pass on any extra costs from the gas tax to consumers as well.
The environmental groups' news release is below, unedited:
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April 28, 2008
B.C. environmental groups applaud carbon tax legislation
VICTORIA-- A coalition of more than 16 environmental groups from across British Columbia welcomed the introduction of the province’s landmark carbon tax into the Legislature today.
“We came to Victoria today to show our strong support for the carbon tax,” said Ian Bruce, a climate change specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation. “When it comes to action on climate change, B.C.’s decision to put a price on carbon emissions makes it a leader, and provides an exciting direction for the federal government and other provinces to follow.”
Finance Minister Carole Taylor introduced the Carbon Tax Act into the Legislature this afternoon. The bill will go through a debate before it goes to a vote likely by the end of the week.
Representatives from a coalition of environmental groups, including the David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club BC, Pembina Institute, BC Sustainable Energy Association and the Wilderness Committee, were on hand at the Legislature in Victoria to show their support for the bill and to encourage MLAs to vote in favour of the carbon tax.
“The carbon tax will help spur innovation, investment and jobs in B.C.’s clean energy sector,” said Cheryl Shuman, chair of the South Peace BC Sustainable Energy Association. “This could provide northern communities that have been hit hard by the effects of climate change with economic opportunities and a strong foothold in the economy of the future.”
B.C. has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 33 per cent by 2020. A carbon tax is a powerful economic tool that can help meet this target. But it will need to continue increasing beyond 2012 and be coupled with other strong measures.
“The carbon tax is one of many solutions required to fight global warming,” said Susan Howatt, director of campaigns with the Sierra Club BC. “A comprehensive climate change plan will include many other measures, including regulations to cap and reduce emissions from B.C.’s large industrial emitters as soon as possible.”
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