Tuesday, May 06, 2008

BC Liberals, environmental groups full of hot air on carbon tax that rips off British Columbians

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday May 6, 2008

Tax just hot air


The worst of all would be a tax that did little or nothing to reduce carbon emissions, but imposed a disproportionate tax burden on low-income people.

- Professor Marjorie Griffin Cohen

Forget the hype - B.C.'s new carbon tax will do nothing to reduce greenhouse gases while punishing lower- income earners to give huge tax breaks to big business.

Forget the environmental groups - who are so desperate to curry favour with the B.C. Liberals that they are acting more like government spin doctors than critical, independent information sources.

Forget the commentators praising B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell for his "vision" - without doing their homework or disclosing their conflicts.

Just look at the results elsewhere, analyze B.C.'s tax, and make up your own mind.

Start with Norway, which has had the highest gas tax in the world since 1991.

A Statistics Norway study shows that: "Despite politically ambitious carbon taxes, this policy measure has had only a modest influence on greenhouse gas emissions."

Modest indeed - it accounted for only two per cent of CO2 emission reductions.

Now consider that Norway's gasoline tax was $51 per ton of CO2 in 1999, while B.C.'s tax starts at $10 per ton, or 2.4 cents per litre, and rises by 2012 to $30 per ton or 7.2 cents per litre.

With a carbon tax almost half that of Norway's, can anyone expect a dramatic reduction in emissions? B.C. sure doesn't - it actually projects increased demand for gas despite the tax.

As my fellow CKNW commentator Norman Spector says: "The government's own figures show that this is not going to do a warm bucket of spit for climate change."

Next, look at the B.C. Liberals' bogus claim that the gas tax is "revenue neutral." Half of the $1.8 billion in new gas tax money raised over three years goes to business tax cuts - most to big corporations and banks.

Then consider who is hurt most by this regressive consumption tax - lower income earners, especially those with no options to reduce use of gas, heating fuels and other carbon-taxed products.

As Simon Fraser University's Cohen points out: "Those least able to afford a tax increase will be disproportionately affected."

Amazingly, 16 environmental groups, including the David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club and Wilderness Committee, travelled to Victoria to support an ineffective carbon tax from a government that has obliterated environmental protection.

And Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson lauded Campbell's policies as "the most progressive in North America" while attacking the B.C. New Democrats, but without disclosing he co-authored a book on climate change with Campbell's special adviser on the topic, Mark Jaccard.

That book's title, Hot Air, pretty much sums up the B.C. Liberals' expensive and unfair carbon tax.


DL said...

Norman got it right as far as a lot of people see this latest Cambell vision. Not well thought out, which is not that unusual for Gordo. The environmentalists have been , in their view, ignored for years so junped on Gordo's runaway freight train before finding out just where it is going

Budd Campbell said...

Usually, the press and the pundits are quicker to call a government policy move a big deal in favour of Group X than are the members of Group X.

Consider a labour law change. Whose more likely to be fully satisfied that it meets all of labour's legitimate demands, the average reporter, or the average union leader? Same with a tax cut for business. Who's most likely to see it as everything business could hope for, the media or the board of trade types?

The weird thing here is that the usual order of satisfaction has been totally reversed. While media types are chuckling that this carbon tax isn't even a fraction of a loaf, the supposed client group in question, the organized environmental industry and some associated professorial types, are falling all over themselves, singing in unison, "This is the Greatest!" It's very, very weird.

I wonder what's really got them so excited? I wonder when we'll find out what it is.

shifthappens said...

2% for Norway is a HUGE amount when the GHG emissions were increasing with their oil production (as we are in the tar sands and Peace River drilling). It works, it's been proven to work and the more you NDP hacks continue harping on how much this carbon tax is going to "rip us off," why not consider the costs of NOT imposing one. Then, carbon has no price tag as an externality and businesses and citizens that emit don't have to consider switching to alternative forms of transportation, energy, etc and effects of Climate Change continue for next generations to fix. Then we will all be ripped off.

Melissa said...

I'm for the carbon tax.

Of course it needs improvement, and it's just a first step. But, my generation, recent university and college graduates, have no time to wait for the politics of suspicion around environmental groups "so desperate to curry favour with the B.C. Liberals."

Our planet is in peril and we need to put a price on unsustainable habits like driving and use that revenue to reward environmentally sustainable behaviours like taking transit.

Anonymous said...

I signed up for the Suzuki Foundation roughly 6 years ago. I was enthusiastic about being associated with, what I thought was, a wise, well-informed, aggressive, environmentally friendly association. Now, 6 years later, I have discovered that the Suzuki Foundation is nothing more than a money mill.
I receive endless amounts of "junk" mail requesting money but there are NO notices of fund raising events or opportunities to volunteer for or participate in environmental events. I have tried to sign up for the fundraisers but have found a deadend trail. The only participation the Suzuki Foundation wants is your money! They don't want your time or your ideas.
I am acutely disappointed in what I believed was an oragnization that truly challenged government and corporate interests which take advantage of every opportunity to benefit from RESOURCE DESTRUCTION and the infamous P3 Agreements.
Sadly we are now informed that the Suzuki Foundation endorses the new B.C. Liberal Green Taxon Fuel with NO accountability as to How these funds will be distributed. But.....Oh.....thank GAWD they justified this benevolent tax by declaring that ...

It will be a revenue-neutral tax, and the money will be returned to taxpayers in tax cuts and incentives, Finance Minister Carole Taylor promised in her budget speech.

What a joke!!!! I can't believe believe that the Suzuki Foundation is in bed with the BC Provincial Liberals...but hey...the information is all there.

The only reporter that had the "wasabis" to state that it was a bogus tax grab and that the "revenue-nuetral" aspect was simply a "smoke and mirrors" approach was Bill Tielman.

I am disgusted by the Suzuki Foundation for buying into the hype. I no longer support the Suzuki Foundation and would appreciate it if you would stop sending me little envelopes to send my contribution in. Or maybe I should be directing my complaints to the Fremason Society?!?!

Suzuki you are fast losing you credibility. People are not as stupid as you think!