Carbon Taxes are Effective Because Reasons

The CBC is back with another opinion piece on global warming: An inconvenient truth: We could be fighting about climate change for a while yet. The author’s political bias is on full display. Let’s take a look:

goreble-warmingAt a glance, last weekend’s box office charts might not suggest there is much hope for humanity. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel, the follow to An Inconvenient Truth, was shown on 180 screens in America, making less than $1 million in ticket sales. The Emoji Movie, on more than 4,000 screens, took in $12 million.

As if people watching Al Gore’s documentary equates to “hope for humanity”.

It might also be noted that much has made been of a climate report authored by scientists with the American government, not so much because of what the report said, but because of fears that Donald Trump’s administration might try to bury it.

By idiots who didn’t take the trouble to find out that drafts of the report had been published months earlier, and that it was going through the usual process. I.e., this was a fake news story. See New York Times guilty of large screw-up on climate-change story. For the author of this piece use fake news to push his agenda is telling.

In truth, significant progress has been made in the decade since Gore’s first film: on public policy, clean energy and international co-operation. In Canada, there is finally something like a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

I agree that progress has been made, but it has little to do with public policy (aside from construction of public transit) or international cooperation. Elon Musk has done far more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by forcing the auto industry to take electrification seriously than any government program has. While governments hand out our money in incentives to purchase electric vehicles, they are still subsidizing the fossil fuel industry with the other hand.

An Ekos survey in 2008 found 70 per cent of respondents identified the environment as a high priority, the highest percentage recorded over years of asking. When Ekos asked again in 2015, only 58 per cent considered the environment a high priority. The recession that hit in 2008 might have made climate change a secondary concern.

How is that surprising?

According to the Angus Reid Institute, support for a national carbon tax slipped to 44 per cent in June from 56 per cent in April 2015.

Perhaps better evidence for how such a tax will actually help reduce global warming would help. BC has had a carbon tax for years now. Are there figures to show it’s had a positive impact? If not, why should we support higher taxes?

In Canada, support for taxing carbon — a policy that economists generally recommend as the most efficient method of reducing emissions — is also divided along regional lines, with rural and Western Canadians opposing.

Economists are generally hopeless at predicting the future. Why should we believe them? Unless they can provide evidence that taxing carbon is efficient, and not just another government money grab, I’m not buying it. I guess I’m just too “Western Canadian”.

A few days before he announced he was leaving politics, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who has loudly opposed federal plans to price carbon, was invoking Pierre Trudeau’s infamous National Energy Program to describe Justin Trudeau’s environmental policies.

As well he should. The federal government has provided no evidence that their plans are more than a tax grab from the energy producing west to prop up the failing east. Like the NEP, the federal carbon tax is a “made in Ottawa” policy. If you don’t want it to be opposed, explain its benefits more clearly.

While the next federal NDP leader and climate activists might push Trudeau to cut emissions deeper and faster, his strategy of slowly increasing the price of carbon might at least limit outrage at the imposition. Research suggests that support for British Columbia’s carbon tax increased after it was implemented, perhaps after it failed to result in economic ruin.

Like boiling a frog by slowly increasing the temperature. “Failed to result in economic ruin” is hardly a criteria for success.

Against an abstract threat, Trudeau must manage tangible changes. And governments do not always manage change smoothly.

Exactly. If global warming is merely an abstract threat, people will be rightly skeptical of a government that can’t control its spending and wants to introduce a new tax.

If Alberta’s United Conservative Party, Wall’s successor in Saskatchewan and the federal Conservatives somehow land on a credible approach to reducing greenhouse gases, the debate might be less pitched.

And what would make it credible? Hard evidence. Al Gore is not a credible source. Over time, many of the predictions made in his first film have failed to come about.

But it’s also possible to foresee a day after the 2019 federal election when Prime Minister Trudeau imposes a carbon tax on Premier Kenney. That might not go pleasantly.

And it’s also possible that after the 2019 federal election, Prime Minister Scheer undoes even more of Trudeau’s poorly thought out policies. Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.

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About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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