Carbon Taxes: Three Years In

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Indexes
  1. If we don’t pay taxes, how will we ever see change?
  2. When it comes to tackling the Biggest Polluters: Prompt and hefty consequences are more effective than arbitrary restrictions.
  3. Report 5-Carbon Pricing-Environment and Climate Change Canada
  4. Canada's climate plans and targets
  5. The federal carbon pollution pricing benchmark
  6. Motor fuel tax and carbon tax
  7. Cost of Living in Canada by Province (2022)
  8. How carbon pricing works
  9. Output-Based Pricing System
  10. British Columbia's Carbon Tax
  11. What is the Kyoto Protocol? | UNFCCC
  12. Energy Talking Points — Alex Epstein
  13. Fossil Future
  14. Unsettled
  15. The Case Against a Carbon Tax by Jordan McGillis | Capitalism Magazine
  16. Government of Canada to require 100% of car and passenger truck sales be…
  17. Liberals, NDP and Bloc vote in favour of increasing carbon tax
  18. Lithium-Based Batteries are Toxic From Start to Finish | Alsym Energy
  19. Cement and Concrete: The Environmental Impact - PSCI
Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

Like people everywhere, Canadians were sold a carbon tax as our moral imperative. We’re told it’s our fault the earth is going to die and we should pay our share for the funeral.

Taxing consumers and tariffing producers at every turn means that all our efforts for “cleaner, more affordable energy” are costing us billions and putting our planet at risk.

Our country is far too diverse in climate and environment to merit the limited energy solutions we’re being offered. A recent documentary from Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore, even highlights the incredible hypocrisy of certain “renewable” infrastructure which takes millions of tonnes of raw materials, is grossly inefficient, and to this day relies heavily on fossil fuels.

If we don’t pay taxes, how will we ever see change?

By not paying taxes, we can put a stop to government handouts for electric cars that run on coal or gas power grids, solar arrays with inefficient low-tier panels and toxic, short-lived batteries, plus all the fake commitments from politicians, who still travel across the globe in jets for “climate” talks.

If you are like me, you make decisions every day to care for yourself as well as the planet, but policies have very little to do with your need to heat your home or drive your vehicle. These are only the ways we’re being taxed directly.

Removing carbon taxes on individual purchases isn’t the only way to regain human rights, but it’s a good start

Canadian provinces have invested in a mixture of climate action incentives, and taxation is complex to say the least. In British Columbia, we’re told that our provincial carbon tax will:

  • Provide carbon tax relief and protect affordability
  • Maintain industry competitiveness
  • Encourage new green initiatives

So I have three questions to answer with this article. Is our tax doing anything to provide carbon tax relief and protect affordability? How does it maintain industry competitiveness? and Which green initiatives are being encouraged?

Tax to “Protect Affordability”

I hope you caught the oxymoron of this objective. It startled me that the province could hold such a blatant contradiction in terms. Then I look at the proposed distribution of tax-obtained wealth through Climate Action Incentive Funds and Provincial Rebates, and I see how they get away with it.

The mere promise of improving schools, hospitals, and family homes is enough to ignore the negative impacts on everyone’s well being in the meantime.

Reality Check: Our schools suffered the hardest during the pandemic, our hospitals are grossly understaffed to this day, and families now have to rely on government subsidies because inflation takes energy opportunities out of their hands.

Researcher and author, Alex Epstein, reminds us in his most recent book, the key to human flourishing is access to affordable energy. No matter how you slice it, taxes on energy consumption cannot cut consumption but they sure can manipulate public spending.

The Math Doesn’t Add Up

The scope of carbon taxation either isn’t understood by government economists, or it is deliberately glazed over; EVERY product and service requires energy and thus, our most vulnerable are impacted most negatively by price increases on essentials.

Yet, taxes are set to increase over the next 12 years, from $50/tonne of CO2 emissions, to $170/tonne by 2035, inflating prices not only for our country but for our allies and trade partners.

In a 2022 audit, the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development noted that future tax hikes have not been properly analyzed and the effects of tripling them by 2035 are far from known. What we do know is that Indigenous peoples and small businesses continue to be disproportionately impacted by carbon taxation (Environment and Climate Change Canada).

In BC, single adults are supposedly receiving quarterly carbon tax rebates of $193.00 as a part of their GST/HST returns, even though the maximum annual tax credit is set at $357.50. Either way, the return is negligible compared to the stacked taxes on fuel and heat.

Pay attention to the taxes you pay on fuel and heat this winter. Find out if you too are charged more than $193 every three months. Find out if you have received any carbon rebates from the CRA. Mine came as a lump sum in October 2022.

Taxation and rebates are not standard across Canada. Some provinces offer between $373 and $539 for adults. Why are BC residents paying more tax and receiving less back? We’re so accustomed to sacrifice, we don’t even realize it’s killing us.

Carbon taxes persecute anyone and everyone who needs to eat, heat or cool their homes, use transportation, have internet, or in general, exist. Poor people can barely keep up, and tax rebates and product subsidies are not the answer.

The answer is to drop carbon taxes. Regardless of what the future may hold, poverty today remains our greatest adversary. No amount of new school roofs or HVAC systems is going to help shelter the homeless, or help families choose between food and heat.

Every jump in price at the grocery store or on the utilities bill is harming us. Inflation can only be decreased practically. Increasing government control over energy output and cost will only cause inflation. I repeat.

Increasing government control over energy output and cost will only cause inflation because wherever the numbers don’t match their Paris Agreement quotas, we get gouged again.

Photo by Caroline Hall on Unsplash

Let’s take a step back.

Frasier Institute’s audit of 31 OECD countries found flaws in multiple applications of carbon taxes for high-income countries including Canada. Mainly, they were money grabs. Mind you, I’m not impressed that the authors begin the paper with a rather patronizing complaint: “Since people do not bear [climate] costs personally there is no incentive to avoid them.”

People pay dearly whenever disaster strikes, but preferably they pay insurance. Carbon taxes can insure nothing. During the worst months of the pandemic, Canadians were earning less than they ever had, and still the carbon tax got the green light.

That is a climate disaster. We had yet another drain on our resources, and this from a government that says, “We’re moving forward- for everyone.” Canadians had decreased emissions to our lowest possible levels out of shear necessity to survive.

Now we are out of quarantine and the price of living is astronomical. Top that off with BC’s floods and fires this year, plus our commitments of refuge and war-relief to multiple countries, and we are paying the king’s ransom. Which reminds me.

Dropping the carbon tax should be our number one priority if we want to improve life in Canada and abroad.

Example From History

In 2006, Alberta, the top producer of oil and gas in Canada, saw a decrease in sales tax under the Harper legislation, first from 7% to 6%, then in 2008, down to 5%. (Alberta has yet to succumb to provincial taxes also). When the 2008 recession hit, the government was right on time, although that may have been a happy accident.

Lowering taxes was not Harper altruistically sacrificing for the good of the people. He simply took a smaller slice of Albertan earnings. I note this to illustrate the negative causality between government interference and human flourishing.

It was moral of the Harper government to lower taxes in order to improve the quality of life for the province. It is immoral for world leaders to increase taxes, especially since they are aware of the rising cost of housing, heating, transportation, and infrastructure.

Tax to “Maintain Industry Competitiveness”

This objective of the BC government is a red flag. It appears to mean to increase healthy competition between energy companies. However, that is not what it says.

Maintaining Industry competitiveness means controlling the output and cost of energy. No one should wield that kind of power, except insofar as they follow supply and demand exactly.

A better system, says policy analyst, and carbon tax journalist, Jordan McGillis, might be a carbon credit system, where companies bid for emissions rights and individuals can sell their excess credits or let them run out. This could encourage lower pollution while maintaining individual freedoms.

As it is, energy companies need to base costs on actual energy consumption, waste management, repairs and most importantly, avenues towards innovation. They can’t predict and set aside funds for every friendly government intervention.

Yet, we have agencies like: provincial Oil and Gas commissions, the Canada Energy Regulator, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Environmental Protection Review Canada, Indian Oil and Gas Canada, all competing for the power to add penalties to the energy needs of millions.

That’s not even an exhaustive list, and you can see how our regulators have become a competitive industry of their own.

Interestingly, in an audit by the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development, they found the following concerns on carbon taxes in Canada: emissions targets couldn’t be met, industry standards couldn’t be tightened over time, and small enterprises couldn’t compete. Carbon taxes are going to continue to rise, yet in some jurisdictions, rebates won’t be made available.

Source: Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to the Parliament of Canada, 2022

When it comes to tackling the Biggest Polluters: Prompt and hefty consequences are more effective than arbitrary restrictions.

Large energy companies are in some cases receiving green initiative money, but nearly all of the revenues received by the Canadian Government go towards tax rebates, according to the 2020 Frasier Institute OECD review. In that independent study, the authors conclude that most countries lump their revenues into an unspecified general budget.

Carbon pricing systems are being implemented globally without diligently abiding by the principles that make these systems work in an efficient manner -Frasier Inst. 2020

Source: Frasier Institute, 2020

Look, the money taken from BC purchases of fuel and power is not going towards innovative new companies. It’s recycling revenue. Meaning it’s moving money from your hands to the government, and supposedly, right back to your hands.

The government launders this money by paying subsidies for electric cars, solar panels, and a few other green-washed energy initiatives.

If the carbon tax could maintain industrial competitiveness, we would see fuel and power costs trend downward and our reliance on renewables increase.

However, higher taxes cannot “maintain industry competitiveness” except to create redundant regulation, promote energy restrictions, and offer misguided wide-scale changes.

Tax to “Encourage Green Initiatives”

Carbon taxes were first being dreamed up in 2002. David Suzuki was paving the way for environmentalism and from my fifth grade perspective, with Alberta’s tar sands on my young conscience, the idea of saving the planet took centerfold.

The draw towards sacrifice for Earth rests in its premise. If we use less now, our future selves will have more. Nowhere in this movement should we believe: if we spend more now, we’ll be saved.

If we weren’t being scalped, we could focus on saving for energy solutions that matter to Canadian communities, like nuclear and hydro. Instead, we’re encouraged to buy the next best subsidized gadget.

Furthermore, we should not be forced into “emission-free” vehicles in the next ten years that, again, are still going to be charged on fossil fuel grids, if not biomass (wood).

Source: Bjorn Lomborg

The best thing a government can do to conserve the environment is downsize. Centralized governments require vast amounts of energy and produce incredible waste. Worse, they perform at the whim of lobbyist groups, so there are revenue leaks everywhere.

According to the Government of Canada, provincial leaders use the proceeds from carbon taxes “as they see fit, including by supporting families to take further action to cut pollution in a practical and affordable way.”

This vague promise does not discuss the implications of solar panel batteries, or concrete wind turbines, nor do they offer a list of initiatives they’re looking into. Provincial governments like mine have happy pamphlets with bright exclamations of success, even though they’re using data from our lowest emission year, 2019, before the taxes were in place.

Canadian transportation still relies on fossil fuels. Our homes, hospitals, schools and offices are still heated and powered with fossil fuels, but supplemented in some cases with hydro, nuclear, and to a far lesser degree, wood, wind, and solar.

The grant application for small and medium businesses to go green was closed two years ago, so how are small enterprises expected to make expensive green choices? The money might one day fund future tech, but only if it gets into the hands of universities and energy companies themselves. This is where energy solutions start.

Taxes in my country have NOT, as they promised they would, helped to mitigate waste or lower emissions. Furthermore, the government has no possible way to motivate change except through coercion.

All we’ve seen from carbon taxes and the “green initiative” are green-washed products like natural gas, overcompensation in campaign strategies, improper definition of the term “renewable”, and further plans to mandate individual access to energy.

Carbon Footprint is Only Half the Story

Cold weather and a lack of sunlight half the year means that Canada requires large amounts of energy to keep people warm and safe, not to mention healthy, fed, clothed, and connected.

Every climate has unique challenges and people face extremes that cannot be blamed on their energy consumption or emissions. Rather than scam people during economic and environmental instability, governments should be obligated to lower taxes. It’s literally the least they can do.

I encourage you to visit your provincial government’s website and find out how much carbon tax revenue they’ve acquired, what their budget contains, and what promises have been upheld.

If you have been negatively impacted by inflation, Petition your representatives to drop carbon taxes, and stay informed on policy changes like the carbon tax schedule.

Resources:

https://www.fraserinstitute.org/sites/default/files/carbon-pricing-in-high-income-oecd-countries.pdf

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/climate-change/action/cleanbc/2021_climate_change_accountability_report.pdf

Food for Thought:

Warnings: