Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

WHAT’S WRONG WITH A CARBON TAX?

Posted by strattof on February 8, 2019

In October 2018, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that a carbon tax would be imposed on all provinces that do not have a carbon emissions pricing plan of their own. Those provinces are Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick.

The tax will be on emissions from fossil fuels, including gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and coal-fired electricity. It will come into effect on April 1 2019.

The carbon tax plan has set off a firestorm of controversy. Premier of Saskatchewan Scott Moe has even launched a court challenge on whether a federal carbon tax is constitutional—a case that will be heard in Regina on February 13 and 14. (For details see the back page of this pamphlet.)

What is the truth about the carbon tax plan?

  • Is it a Liberal tax grab, as its opponents say?
  • Or is it, as Trudeau insists, the best way to fight climate change?

The answer: It is neither.

THE CARBON TAX: A TAX GRAB?

The carbon tax plan comes in two parts:

  1. THE TAX: The tax on emissions will start at $20 a tonne and increase by $10 a year until it reaches $50 a tonne in 2022.
  2. THE REBATE: To offset the cost of the carbon tax to those living in Saskatchewan and the other affected provinces, the Trudeau government has promised to return to residents 90% of the money it collects from the tax.

The rebate will vary depending on the province and household size. In Saskatchewan, a family of four will receive a rebate of $609 in 2019, while a single adult will receive $305.

Residents will start getting the rebate on their 2019 tax return where it will either be added to the refund payment or deducted from tax owing.

If the Trudeau government keeps its promise to return 90% of the carbon tax as a rebate, then the carbon tax is not a tax grab. (The remaining 10 per cent will be given to small and medium-sized businesses, schools, hospitals and other organizations that can’t pass on their costs from the carbon tax directly to consumers.) 

THE CARBON TAX & CARBON EMISSIONS?

Is the carbon tax an effective means of reducing carbon emissions? The short answer to this question is ‘no.’

According to the UN, Canada’s carbon price would have to reach between $140 and $590 a tonne by 2030 for Canada to meet the commitments it made under the Paris Climate Agreement: to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

This does not mean the carbon tax as it stands is totally useless. It will have some (small) effect on emissions, possibly accounting for up to 7% of the required 30% reduction.

So let’s keep the carbon tax. But, if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, it must not be Canada’s main climate policy. We must also implement policies that will radically reduce emissions.

RADICALLY REDUCING EMISSIONS

Here are four climate policies the federal government could implement that would radically reduce carbon emissions:

  1. Stop all new tar sands pipelines, including Trans Mountain and Energy East.
  2. Stop subsidizing fossil fuels—estimated at $3.3 trillion a year.
  3. Start investing in renewable energy industries.
  4. Fund public transportation, both urban and inter-city options.

CATASTROPHIC CLIMATE CHANGE

We have just 12 years left before catastrophic climate change. That is the grim warning issued last year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s climate science body.

According to the IPCC, our burning of fossil fuels has already resulted in a 1°C increase in global temperature. We are already seeing the damaging consequences of global warming:

  • Deadly heatwaves ● Devastating droughts
  • Raging wildfires ● Record floods
  • Rising sea levels ● Extreme weather events

If we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, we must limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. This would mean

► A 45% reduction in CO2 emissions from 2010 levels by 2030.

► Zero emissions by 2050.

CLIMATE CHANGE, by Kristen Bowen

 

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