Monday, April 28, 2008

BC environmental groups go to Victoria to praise BC Liberals as leaders for introducing carbon tax

It is disappointing to see this news release from some of BC's leading environmental organizations, who are in Victoria today to praise the BC Liberal government for its "leadership" through introduction of a so-called carbon tax.

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:

* * * * *

News release

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.”
On behalf of:
BC Sustainable Energy Association, Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society -- BC Chapter, David Suzuki Foundation, Dogwood Initiative, Ecojustice, ForestEthics, Georgia Strait Alliance, Greenpeace, Living Oceans Society, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club BC, Smart Growth BC, Society Promoting Environmental Conservation, West Coast Environmental Law, Wilderness Committee

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Anonymous said...

are they proud of all the coal we ship to china --are they proud of the 330million dollar subsidy to oil and gas industry(330million next year as well)--or how about the biggest polluters in the province are exempt from the carbon tax----what about rural bc with no transit options---suzuki foundation sold out( 10.000.00 donation to the suzuki foundation from the province)---suzuki been quiet an sfpr -the bog---silent on run of river---silent on fish farms---suzuki " you used to be good but now your just old and tired, your inner flame is nothing more than worn out bic lighter" HEY SUZUKI IS THAT DIRT ON YOUR LIPS OR GORDON CAMPBELLS BOOT POLISH!

G West said...

Just read the bill.

It's little more than a perpetual motion machine which does exactly NOTHING to address the problem.

In fact, so Byzantine is the effort to take the tax in at one end and spew out the exact same dollars at the other that they only actual benefit to come from the enactment of the bill will be the additional staff that will have to be hired to collect the tax; make sure it has been collected and remitted – punish anyone who hasn’t remitted – make certain that no one is taxed who would be exempt because they are involved in inter-provincial trade and transportation (including flights and voyages) and then, in the fullness of time - pay it all back in the form of direct pandering payments to people and reductions in British Columbia taxation.

This bill is a farce.

Sadly, the environmental groups who embarrassed themselves in Victoria today should have read the legislation first....You almost always get into trouble when you listen to anything this government has to say...

Anonymous said...

These folks have been snookered the same way the Tsawwassen band was. What were they thinking when then chose to live next to huge containers in storage? And, thus, allow the Port to ruin the environment out here.

With the world economy in the perilous shape it is, one would hope that somebody in Victoria reads US and British news. $50 billion pounds bailout to British banks is the Sunday news out of London. we"re in for a slide, folks.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if these groups have any lobbyist on the payroll?

Anonymous said...

"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."

Bill, I don't know how you come to that conclusion when the carbon tax is revenue neutral. Bill 37 states that a "carbon tax plan" must be annually brought forth to the legislature inclusive of:

i. forecast of carbon taxes to be collected;

ii. a forecast of the reduction in the Provincial revenues

Those reduction in provincial revenues must be detailed and be brought before the legislature.

I doubt that the reduction in provincial revenues in any way will pay for tax breaks for business supporters as you suggest.

G West said...

My reading of the legislation supports anon 12:04's analysis.

The legislation is a carefully crafted con job to take money - lots of it - out of the gas pumps of the province (with certain notable exceptions also carefully designed not to step on the federal authority) and recycle it back into the hands of the citizens and companies who put it there without driving anything but the bureaucratic windmills of the structure which will have to be set up to administer this sleight of hand.

It will do precisely nothing - except create a lot of bookwork - to ameliorate climate change.

READ THE BILL. Please. It is nothing but an elaborate money laundering exercise.

Then tell your friends they've been had.

Budd Campbell said...

Can anyone be surprised? David Suzuki and other members of the environmental NGO industry have been cozying up to the Liberals, federally and provincially, for quite some time.

A case in point was their apoplectic fury at Jack Layton and Nathan Cullen for deciding to work for improvements to the federal Clean Air Act rather than defeating the government and forcing an election. Months later when a greatly improved act passed the Commons, Suzuki was on hand to take some of the credit! What Suzuki and the other members of the commercial environmental movement were really interested in was an election and a return to Liberal rule and Liberal patronage.

And it's the same game provincially. Watch the appointments lists, Bill!

Anonymous said...

Whenever I hear the words"Revenue neutral" I get nervous. The paperwork alone to keep a handle on such things will require a lot of trees, or computers. The price of fuel in this little town of Victoria has risen about 30 cents a litre in the last three months with no end in sight. I recall all the talk about Indians being the greatest environmentalists , the other environmentalists were their big supporters. Suddenly there was a buck to be made and things changed. Good by park land, good by agriculteral Land. I figure the environmentalists feel that for years they were ignored so will sign on to just about anything that mentions their names. My God David is doing commercials offering passerbuyers cualking for their windows. Another of Gordo's visions, and I wonder how long he will stick to this one.

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised to see the Dogwood Initiative supporting Campbell. They're a Liberal Party shill.

Anonymous said...

Lets see,between gordo and his drunk driving and david suzuki being arrested for illegal fishing,theyre quite the pair.