Thursday, February 21, 2013

Carbon Tax Inneffective?

I am an environmentalist.  I like BC and want to help change the world through smarter conservation of energy and better programs to reduce energy consumption.  One thing that I found today deeply disturbs me.  It turns out that the Carbon Tax is nothing more than a money grab.  The math behind the alleged 4.5% reduction between 2007 and 2010 does not account for the general economy shrinking.  In fact, the 2012 liberal budget in British Columbia actually concluded that GHG's are on the rise and we will produce more.

Carbon tax – as announced in Budget 2008, the carbon tax rate per tonne of CO2- equivalent will increase by $5 each year to $30 per tonne by July 1, 2012. The forecast assumes that purchased volumes of natural gas will grow by 2.0 per cent annually, while consumption of gasoline is expected to remain constant. Revenue is expected to increase in line with these higher rates and assumed volume growth. 
So in short, the Carbon Tax needs to be scrapped.  It needs to be replaced with effective programs to actually reduce green house gas emissions and other forms of energy (a mantra I have been chanting for decades now thank you).  The current Carbon Tax only adds costs to everything we buy and puts our businesses at a disadvantage in a global economy.

Time for some common sense.


  1. Carbon tax is indeed working. I don't understand your point about how it's not. Please elaborate.

  2. @ Kody - I admit I am negligent in not providing facts to back this up,. I was also under the impression the Carbon Tax was working but I stumbled across some data that concerned me. I would like to point out an obvious error in logic. While the government is claiming it is working, I read the 2012-2013 BC government budget. On page 66 I found a disturbing set of numbers that indicate that the carbon tax revenues are projected to increase. The link is at: (page 66 - look at projections). The revenue is based on volumes (not price increases) and shows the revenue is projected to increase every year between now and 2015. The numbers are re-printed at Keep in mind that the last year of increases per ton stopped in 2012 so volume is the sole metric. Logically, the only way revenues can increase is if the volume of GHG emissions increased. Logically, both statements cannot be true. We cannot claim it is working, but then project that the volume of emissions will increase.

    I am willing to expand my definition of "working" to include the fact that GHG emissions are at a lesser velocity that pre-2008 but this is not the case. For starters, the studies exclude several sources of GHGs. I wish that it was working but the data suggest otherwise. I believe the people behind it genuinely did a good and the data they had at the time supported their decision but when data suggests otherwise, it might be a good time to re-evaluate the approach and do something better.

    Now the increase would be fine if the tax revenues were being used to invest in renewable and alternative energy sources (like funding BC SEA work). The Carbon Tax is "revenue neutral" meaning the government simply re-distributes the tax revenue as tax cuts to people most heavily affected by the tax. Again, I was shocked to discover this.

    At this point, let me point out that I am a strong environmentalist. I had supported the tax under the belief it was performing one of the two options:

    1. Cutting GHG emissions; or
    2. investing into developing renewable energy sources for long term interests

    If it does neither, the tax is simply re-distributing tax revenues, minus the overhead of the government.

    I will be perfectly happy if the velocity of GHG emissions had slowed. This is again not the case. The studies upon which the statements are based are not peer reviewed and also did not account for a few major factors. The Carbon Tax measures the GHG emissions are based on a linear equation to an amount of GHG producing substances being manufactured or consumed in BC. These include the production of cement, the use of fossil fuels and other items (again, don't take my word for it. Look at the government's own explanation).

    The three studies that claim it is working seem to not account for the fact that we completed major Vancouver Olympic infrastructure projects in the time frame in question (2008-2010) and also failed to factor in the fact that the Canada Line went into production in 2009, carrying 38 million passengers per year ( a lot of reduction in fuel costs). One of the three (Pembina) did account for the major economic downturn by comparing BC (2008-2010) to the rest of Canada yet it did not account for the fact that our economy did not suffer as much as the rest of Canada. While the government has sound data past 2010, they have also refused to add it to the CT equation. As an environmentalist, I want real change. I want something that will actually reduce the GHG emissions globally and kick start the BC clean tech economy.

    As a lifelong member of Greenpeace, I want to help but simply adding a tax that allows people to pollute by paying more is not my first choice. The costs get passed on to us and if the law does not reduce GHG emissions, it is not achieving the end results we need. The end result we need is a global reduction in GHG's.


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