|Gasoline consumption in BC has NOT dropped 19% as claimed|
I have said it before and I will repeat it now - the Carbon Tax introduced by the BC Liberal government in 2008 is not having the predicted and desired effect that its fervent environmental supporters keep claiming.
The latest study comes from a group called Sustainable Prosperity, a network of economics and environment professors.
These good doctors certainly deserve points for putting the best possible spin on the BC Carbon Tax and getting their message out in the media.
"BC just had the guts to try it. And it's working," Elgie claimed to the CBC, which along with most other media duly repeated the study's conclusions without verifying them.
But I argue otherwise.
First, let me be clear that I strongly opposed the unfair and regressive Carbon Tax when introduced by the BC Liberal government under former Premier Gordon Campbell, including starting a Facebook protest group called "Axe the BC Gas Tax" that at one point had about 10,000 members.
Remember that not a penny of the Carbon Tax goes to environmental projects, public transit improvements or anything "green" - the only green is the colour of money that came from personal and corporate tax cuts to balance the cost of the Carbon Tax.
What is clear is that Sustainable Prosperity has cherry-picked numbers that appear to justify its arguments in favour of the Carbon Tax. Note that it is using "per capita" consumption not actual consumption.
Here's the biggest single factor - and major target - for the Carbon Tax - the gas you use in your car, truck or motorcycle.
As you can see below from easily available Statistics Canada data, BC's gas consumption has dropped by a minuscule 26.2 thousand cubic metres since 2008.
You can also see that gasoline consumption was higher in 2011 than in 2008 by a small margin - despite the Carbon Tax being at almost full strength by that point!
Most importantly, you cannot see an 18% drop in gas consumption, or it would have fallen by a massive 860.66 thousand cubic metres!
Here's the data:
Motor Gasoline consumption - British Columbia in thousands of cubic metres, from Statistics Canada:
2012 - 4,503.6
2011 - 4,536.8
2010 - 4,695.7
2009 - 4,636.0
2008 - 4,529.8
2007 - 4,629.9
2006 - 4,581.5
2005 - 4,638.1
2004 - 4,892.4
There's another major factor at play - the international oil market and it's effect on gasoline prices in BC.
The folks at BCGasPrices.com have very useful charts on historical gas prices in this province.
If you look at their 5-year chart you will find that gas prices have skyrocketed from a low of 77 cents a litre in November 2008 to current rates in July 2013 of 140 cents a litre - a whopping 63 cent a litre difference - or almost 10 times the total of BC's current 7 cent a litre Carbon Tax.
BC gasoline price per litre:
November 2008 - $.77
July 2013 - $1.40
So if consumption did go down - even if slightly - it's far more attributable to huge price increases than to the Carbon Tax.
That's without considering the effects of other factors - particularly the changing economy that reduces consumption when times are tougher.
Those who believe in the BC Carbon Tax will, of course, disagree with me and keep pumping up a tax that hurts lower income earners and northerners the most while doing nothing to keep people from driving.
But the numbers are clear - gasoline consumption fluctuates a little year to year but keeps at a very high level indeed, with the Carbon Tax having effectively no impact on use.