Let’s clear the air on carbon taxes

I admit: we aren’t 100 per cent sure that human activity is causing global warming. So let’s all go home in our SUVs and join an “axe the tax” campaign. Come to think of it, we aren’t sure that our houses will be robbed, flooded, or burned to the ground, so let’s cancel our home insurance while we’re at it.

After all, the vast majority of the world’s climate scientists will only admit to being 90 per cent certain that our carbon emissions are causing global warming on such a scale that we face global catastrophe if we fail to change our ways. If nine out of 10 doctors said your child needed an immediate operation, would you wait until all 10 agreed?

James Hansen, a leading climate expert who raised the alarm about global warming to the U.S. Congress 20 years ago, says he’s 99 percent sure, but that’s still not 100 percent, so why should we pay more by way of a carbon tax to address a problem that may not exist?

True, a report prepared by M.K. Jaccard and Associates for the David Suzuki Foundation titled Pricing Carbon: Saving Green argued persuasively that a carbon tax is an effective tool for bringing emissions down, and governments, scientists, and economists around the world agree, but what if they’re wrong?

Never mind that countries such as Sweden, which implemented a carbon tax in 1991, have proven such measures are effective and that they actually produce economic benefits; why should we change if we don’t have to? Rising gas prices due to global market forces are already hitting us hard enough; why should we add to the misery?

Consider this: If the industry shills and their followers are right and global warming is not the threat we think it is, and we act anyway, the oil will still be there for future use and we’ll also have cleaner air and greater innovation in green technologies – along with stronger economies.

If the majority of the world’s climate scientists are right and we fail to act, we face ecological, social, and economic catastrophe on a scale beyond anything we’ve experienced in modern times.

Consider also that carbon taxes such as B.C.’s and the one the federal Liberals have proposed are actually tax shifts. The money collected from individuals, businesses, and industry will be returned in the form of cuts to personal and business taxes.

The 2.4 cents a litre increase in gas prices that is one small part of the B.C. tax is minuscule compared to market increases, and the tax may help us move away from continued reliance on increasingly scarce and costly fossil fuels.

Whether it’s called a tax shift, a revenue-neutral tax, or a new tax, it will get people worked up. No one likes taxes, but we like roads and schools and hospitals and police services, so we pay them. We also pay about $90 a tonne to put garbage into landfills, so why are we so concerned about having to pay to put garbage into the air?

Politicians have two powerful instruments to influence behaviour: regulation and taxation. In the mindless mantra of anti-taxation groups, taxes are bad and we should always cut and never increase them. The ludicrous aspect is that these groups are silent about the enormous taxpayer subsidies to fossil-fuel and related industries that make windfall profits while resisting even a small tax hike.

Together with measures such as a cap-and-trade program, a carbon tax can use money from industries that are not energy-efficient to create economic benefits and incentives for those that that are wiser in their energy use. The income generated by a carbon tax can be used to cut income taxes, build more public transit, upgrade trains, develop renewable-energy sources, and retrofit homes and buildings with energy-efficient technology.

For 20 years, scientists have warned of the need for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Leading economists have shown that the cost to bring emissions down will be about one per cent of GDP annually, while the costs incurred if we don’t reduce emissions could be economically catastrophic.

When politicians, business people, and citizens show leadership by proposing or implementing solutions to the very real problems facing the planet (yes, more than 90 per cent certain is as real as it gets in science), they deserve our support, not mockery and politically motivated misinformation. Axe the tax, my ass!




Jul 2, 2008 at 7:59pm

Yes David, axe the tax. Your piece is the usual latte sipping intellectual tripe that you and your millionaire envirofacists have been spouting for far too long. Face it David, the hockey stick graph is BS. Do what you do best and hang out on your private island paradise and rake in more CBC cash financed by the lowly masses. We mere mortals, relying on things you say we can't have, are just trying to make a living and don't appreciate the likes of Gordon Campbell stealing our money to pay for the Olympics while smiling at us through booze soaked Hawaiian eyes and telling us how good it will be for us. Want something that's truly "revenue neutral"? Leave us alone!! We'll just go about our business making a living and you can quietly suck off the public teat like you've always done. It's ok David, we're used to it!

Now if you are really, really serious about halting global warming or whatever (remember when it was Global Cooling?), you can climb on your diesel guzzling bus and go preach carbon taxes and the virtues of living in caves munching granola to the real polluters in the world in India and China, I'm sure they will give you the attention you richly deserve.

Yes David, axe the tax, or at least call it what it really is. Not the "politically motivated misinformation" you, Uncles Gordo and Al and mon'Oncle Stephane preach. "My ass", David? Is that the best you can offer? Sorry but you can bite mine instead.


Jul 3, 2008 at 2:08pm

What is laughable here, is the fact that you choose to attack the indivual, Peter, as opposed to really addressing the nature of the problem. It is very easy to accuse and point fingers at single persons faults or errors, but what really takes strength and courage is being able to offer solutions. By belittling and generalizing a group of people whom are willing to stand up and you are only harming your own opinion, and making yourself look like the bigger "ass".

David raises many legitimate points, that even the 'lowly masses', as Peter so eloquently has put it, can see. I am young man myself, living barely above the poverty line, yet I can find ways to get around that do not involve a 'green house' emitting carbon vehicle. I walk, run, bike and skytrain wherever possible.

It is also ridiculous to play the blame and pointing fingers game. 'It isn't us, it is them (China and India), so leave me alone'. This is a very poorly evolved thesis. Global Warming is a GLOBAL problem, which means everyone on the globe is responsible for the cause, and it will take everyone to solve this issue. If we want to influence the major polluting countries into making environmentally friendly choices, we need to lead by example. Think globally, act locally is the motto to sum this very idea up. You cannot expect the rest of the world to change when you are doing nothing to enact this change yourself.

So, if you want to be upset about something, be upset that our government, the very supporting infrastructure that is supposed to have your back and protect you against every major threat to your safety and security, did nothing when they had the chance 20 years ago. Be upset that they do not have a well funded system of subsidies for the devlopment of implication of renewable and eco-friendly energy/fuel sources. Be upset that the government is more concerned with increasing their military spending and increasing the influential hand/pockets of Corporate big buisness interests, then creating a place where our children can grow up and breathe clean air, without the fear of a major ecological disaster.

Protesting the carbon tax, one of the very FEW things our government has done in order to establish the creation of a renewable energy source infrastructure, is misplaced aggression and anger. Yes, the gas/oil industry is gouging out are very eyes, and creating a organ collection facility as they remove us of our arms and legs. The sting of immediate monetary woes and problems is not to be underestimated, but is this not the first step towards the creation of a solution. Gas price hikes have been approved by the major corporations, yet where are the people standing on the side of the streets protesting this. Where are the people protesting the lack of our governments intiative to create sustainable energy grants and policies that work.

If you want to be upset, stop focusing on the most miniscule of events, open your eyes to the state of affairs around you and make a difference where ever you can. Stop, shut off your vehicle, climb a mountain and think, is this the world I want to hand to my children? Accept the fact that it will take a little from everyone to make this world a better place, and if the pump is really killing you, car pool, take transit or ride a bike.

Excuses do not change the problem, solutions do. So be part of the solution.


Jul 3, 2008 at 10:13pm

My Dear Tenebrae,

I am willing to admit that perhaps my words were a bit strong but no more so than David has used in the past and at the end of his piece. Secondly, I note you are by your own admission a young man. While this by no means devalues your opinion, your lack of experience in the world does leave you susceptible to the flim flam of those to hypocritical to practice what they preach.

I too would be only too glad to take the Sky Train to work. Unfortunately there isn't a line to northern Vancouver Island. We rural folks do not suffer fools lightly. And if you take a moment to walk a mile in my moccasins you'll see that when someone with the means to live on a shoestring and not care due to available infrastructure takes the time to lecture me on the merits of a carbon free lifestyle, I get irate. I also get irate when a millionaire like Dr. Suzuki does the same thing. I don't see him giving up one of his homes or taking the Sky Train anywhere. As for Mr. Campbell, well, perhaps he can explain to me how taxing me to death is going to save anything that concerns me. And ultimately when it all comes down to it, I can't worry about future generations when there's no work or I can't afford to live now, can I?

Rather than punish me and my kind, why not offer incentives? Make it easy to go solar! Offer subsidies to convert my truck to batteries? Something, anything! But no. Alas all we get is a lecture about future generations and how we must suffer for something that is based more on politics and money than on solid science. You are too young to remember that in the 70's and 80's it was Global Cooling, we were all going to freeze to death. In this case it was the Polar Bear that would be ok but the Toucan was in for it. Now it's the opposite.

So please Tenebrae, lecture someone else. Take the Sky Train, buy a bus pass, wrap your sandwich in 100 percent recycled paper. Go for it. But please, do not presume I am interested in something that does not pertain to my condition where I live. And take my word on two things, unless India and China do something, you can Sky Train to the moon and it won't make any difference. Second, there will always be someone that will create a calamity to make a buck.

So have at it, I'm sure you and yours will bring the heavy hand of government and special interests to bear and we will all suffer the consequences. Regardless, the sun will rise, the weather will do what it's done for eons and we'll all get by until the next calamity manufactured by "right thinking" people. At the turn of the last century we were all to die from Haley's Comet, then Global Cooling, Alien abductions, and now we're all going to fry, drown or worse.

See you at the next one!


Jul 3, 2008 at 10:57pm

Who killed the electric car? That is actually the title of a documentary but it wasn't just industry the killed it. It all comes down to money (and ultimately your economic slavery). Regardless of whether you think global warming is man made or not, let's just agree that polution is bad OK. As for the taxes it is an outright SCAM. Think about it , if actually believe that the government (or industry) is going to use those tax dollars to provide better alternatives (and cheaper) , you are fooling yourself . Those who don't drive as well as those that do have to pay it . More tax , more control , more BS.
Ask this question: why did Transport Canada keep changing the guidelines on companies that were trying to create electric cars to mass produce ? Every time they met the guidelines they would change the guidelines for these companies (more red tape). This is just one of many examples of why they want you to keep using gasoline and make you feel guilty for breathing, and therefore pay tax.
KEEP AN EYE ON WHERE THE TAX DOLLARS ARE ACTUALLY GOING, DAVID. Taxes is like Viagra for the government so they can keep screwing you, especially in this case. In principle it's a nice idea , but be realistic. And who are these 'scientists' that claim to be experts on global warming. I know it's not you David (Geneticist). And definetly not Al Gore (another lying politician).


Jul 4, 2008 at 10:50am

In the first para. you use an insurance metaphor. To torture it a bit I think we are buying into "flying spaghetti monster" insurance and forgetting the rest. My grave concern is simply AGW hype takes away from known environmental issues. When rainforest is destroyed to make way for biodiesel plantations we have gone too far. Bjorn Lomborg raises good points to this effect. In Canada Dalton McGuinty refused to mandate scrubbers on power plants in Ontario "since they don't reduce CO2 anyway". There is no shortage of incentive to business and Industry to save on energy costs. A carbon tax just adds scam factor. Now we need to replace our lamps with those twisty little mercury bombs - in spite of the fact that we know about the effects of mercury.
We need to get our environmental priorities straight and ANY defender of the current AGW hype is harming the environment.


Jul 4, 2008 at 9:18pm

The Rich shall Inherit the Earth

An idea would be Gas/ Hydro etc. rationing, an identical personal allowance for every individual after which you pay the going rate. If the allowed amounts were set at a minimum cost level.. the poor could make a living by selling their allowance at vastly inflated prices to the rich.

Of course the system would be totally unworkable but then nearly every government scheme is a minefield”¦ I always thought I was clever but on second thoughts if I was really clever I would be rich and waving down from a position where taxes were merely a nuisance.

Global warming must be true”¦ I myself get hotter and hotter (under the collar) as I hear more and more the half hearted attempts to control it made by those we are paying (because they are the cleverest?) with our hard earned money.

I would Gladly give up my private jet, fleet of SUVs, Massive house and estate if I thought it would make a difference”¦. Of course I haven’t actually got any of those things, so it’s an easy remark to make.



Jul 4, 2008 at 9:57pm

This article is from the National Post


TOKYO -- Tired of gasoline prices rising daily at the pump? A Japanese company has invented an electric-powered, and environmentally friendly, car that it says runs solely on water.

Genepax unveiled the car in the western city of Osaka on Thursday, saying that a liter (2.1 pints) of any kind of water -- rain, river or sea -- was all you needed to get the engine going for about an hour at a speed of 80 km (50 miles).

"The car will continue to run as long as you have a bottle of water to top up from time to time," Genepax CEO Kiyoshi Hirasawa told local broadcaster TV Tokyo.

"It does not require you to build up an infrastructure to recharge your batteries, which is usually the case for most electric cars," he added.

Once the water is poured into the tank at the back of the car, the a generator breaks it down and uses it to create electrical power, TV Tokyo said.

Whether the car makes it into showrooms remains to be seen. Genepax said it had just applied for a patent and is hoping to collaborate with Japanese auto manufacturers in the future.

Most big automakers, meanwhile, are working on fuel-cell cars that run on hydrogen and emit -- not consume -- water.

© Thomson Reuters 2008"

So I wonder if the tax dollars from carbon taxes will go toward funding this energy alternative (companies that develope it and market it to the masses). Probably not because that would be the end of their cash cow , Think about it people, doesn't it make you mad that they have found another way to take advantage of your guilty conscience and screw you for more money. There are many people and companies trying to come up with energy solutions that are cheaper and non polluting yet the government puts up the road blocks to keep these energy alternatives of the road. The big auto and oil companies have a hand in it too so you will always be their slave . Government and industry working hand in hand , smells a little bit like fascism . More like we are living more and more in a fuedalistic economic system.