Beware the Carbon Tax A-Tax!

You have heard the old joke? “Five guys walk into a bar…it was being swung by Catherine McKenna.”

“Who knew that the defenders of the environmental status quo would all be so…male and white. Whaaaaaat a shock.” My Daughter, 16.


The Carbon Tax. It is an economic principal so simple that my 16 year old daughter figured it out in less than a minute.

  1. Set a price on pollution.
  2. Industries have a choice to reduce the emissions, or pay the carbon tax.
  3. Extra costs passed on to consumers by price increases.
  4. Carbon tax revenue is given back to households directly via tax rebate to offset higher costs.
  5. Small businesses and households have a price incentive to change their consumption habits, or to buy less pollution intensive goods and services.
  6. Demand increases for clean energy technology and for more efficient products and services. More investment for clean technologies is driven by demand.
  7. Demand for energy efficient and environmentally friendly products shifts carbon intensive industries to adopt lower emissions technologies.
  8. Carbon emissions fall.

Debunking myths. 

There it is. Yes, it is a rather simplistic view of carbon pricing, but no less accurate. We live in the era of the 20 second soundbite, but also in a time of truth decay and alternative facts. The skeptics will say that offering a tax rebate that is revenue neutral offers no incentive to change consumption habits. Well, here is a simple analogy for the alternative facts crowd from Tristan Hopper: “Consider a scenario in which the government places a $5 tax on every bottle of wine and simultaneously hands every Canadian a $5 “rebate cheque” at the end of every day. Sure, Canadians could keep drinking wine with no hit to their bottom line. Or, they could drink beer and have an extra $5 at the end of each week.” Feel free to apply that analogy to any product you like.

“But the $307 tax rebate won’t cover the costs of the carbon tax price increases or my consumption. Doug Ford says that it will cost me $1000!!!” Well I have a math lesson for the alternative facts jet set. (Trigger Warning: anyone triggered by facts may experience rage at what comes next.)

A) Projected Carbon Tax proceeds in Ontario: $1,770,000,000

B) There are 5,169,175 households in Ontario

A/B=?  1,770,000,000/5,169,175

$342.41, that doesn’t look like $1000 to me. Facts matter. Or conversely, Doug Ford is not known for his honesty, and all that skeptics have is fear and not facts to sell their worldview.

Just to prove the point of what the costs of carbon pricing will be on the average Canadian household with carbon pricing. Here is this amazing study.

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This shows that household costs in 2019 for the carbon tax with electricity factored at $20/tonne is $283.00, the tax rebate is $307 meaning that we get back more money than the carbon tax cost us.

“There is no proof that carbon taxes are an effective tool for cutting emissions!”

Sigh.

I am truly sick and tired of answering this question. To put it simply, anyone who says this is full of shit. End of story. There are thousands of studies. Peer reviewed studies. There is data from the countries that have used carbon taxes.

The truth is, there is data out there, carbon pricing is proven to work. My advice is to get informed, to read all the materials available to us. Get to know the facts and numbers. Numbers do not lie. Yes, people lie, and context matters but knowledge, and application of facts and statistics will always win the debate.

What does this all mean?

This is a complex issue. As irreverent as I can be, I acknowledge this. I am aware that complicated issues open up room for populists and politicians who cater to the lowest common denominator to to use disinformation and deceit to sow fear and distrust.

Lets communicate on their level for a minute. If we do nothing the world as we know it will come to an end, the futures that we have planned for ourselves and for our children will not be possible. The costs of dealing with climate change will overwhelm our financial capacity and take from the ability of our governments to provide even the most basic services. Forget the CPP, EI, and healthcare. I am talking about a dog eat dog world at the most basic levels combined with environmental and ecological disasters as our reality.

Don’t take my word for it either, this very future was just spelled out to us by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

So beware the politician who claims that a carbon tax isn’t necessary to combat climate change without a plan of their own. Beware the naked conservative offering you their clothes. A carbon tax is just a part of what we have to do to change the environmental path that we are on. We need bold leadership, we need a plan, we need facts, we need truth, and we need the will to see this through.

I am in. Are you?

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