Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Sweden’s carbon-tax solution

with 5 comments


In 2007 Sweden topped the list of countries that did the most to save the planet – for the second year running – according to German environmental group, Germanwatch.  Between 1990 and 2006 Sweden cut its carbon emissions by 9%, largely exceeding the target set by the Kyoto Protocol, while enjoying economic growth of 44% in fixed prices.

It has not even got started here yet, but we are being flooded with tales about how terrible our tiny carbon tax is going to be.

Jeppe Gustafsson/AFP

Sweden can lay claim to the world’s first train running solely on biogas.

Photograph: Jeppe Gustafsson/AFP

Well, we can expect some teething troubles, and nowhere does a policy translate directly. Bit I think Canada and Sweden have a bit in common. They just don’t have the space, oil and gas that we do. Which is why they pursued this initiative with such vigour. They realised early on that reliance on imported oil was not a good idea. The ghg reductions were kind of a bonus.

I know a lot of environmentalists – and others – now regard “growth” as a dirty word, but the Swedes have shown you do not necessarily need to trade off the environment against the economy.

Anyway, I thought it was about time for something positive for a change.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 28, 2008 at 5:44 pm

5 Responses

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  1. people are upset about the carbon tax here because——-the biggest pollutors were exempted from the tax—–along with 330 million dollar subsidy to the oil and gas industry –and 330 million next year for oil and gas subsidy–and if theres no transit options in rural bc—and the roads the way they are, and long distances to travel people need substantial vehicles.——and for gordon(the gargler)campbell to tell people to turn down their heat —–what does one case of phenomia cost the health system——–signed………………………….how about a carbon tax on the pine beetle

    grant g

    April 28, 2008 at 6:44 pm

  2. The biggest polluters were exempt from carbon tax in Sweden too, but I’m not sure about now. Of course, they started their tax in the early 90s.


    April 28, 2008 at 7:09 pm

  3. I get annoyed by this continued assertion (Grant, I’m looking at you) that “the biggest polluters are exempt from BC’s carbon tax”.

    There is a grain of truth in this, in that the proposed system is entirely based on consumption of fossil fuels and cannot account for CO2 emissions produced by other means – for example, released by a chemical reaction.

    There is a simple reason for this, which is that the accounting for these emissions is complex and will vary on a case by case basis, whereas the accounting for fossil fuel use is trivially simple (“how much did you buy?”) and is the same across all industries and consumer uses. I believe that the carbon tax will come to deal with these corner cases too, in time, but for now it seems like the province is – quite sensibly in my view – going for the “low hanging fruit.”

    But even with this limitation, it is not true to say that anyone in BC will be “exempt” from the carbon tax – all of those industries will be paying the tax on the fuel bills and indirectly on electricity bills where that electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels.

    Prove me wrong…


    Mark Allerton

    April 29, 2008 at 9:23 pm

  4. Carbon taxes can be direct, as currently proposed in BC and practiced in some European countries, and should be escalated incrementally. Then there is the other kind where one country imposes carbon tarrifs on others on the carbon content of their exports, or prices carbon in an international carbon trading system. After the upcoming election, the US may well wipe away any reluctance Harper has WRT dealing appropriately with emissions if they start tarrifing the hell out of exports from the oilsands.


    April 30, 2008 at 12:20 pm

  5. mark you are way off the mark, school closing by this goverment are causing thousands of students to be bussed and driven many miles!—where I live there are NO busses or medical specialists which cause me to travel !—big industry was also exempted from hydro increases!–china put 8 million cars on the road last year!—chinas emissions rose in 2004 to 2005 that one year increase is more than the all the emissions in canada!—where do you think our ( new record coal shipments ) go to!—-our bc emissions went up in -2006 2007–they will go up for the next ten years–a million people coming here with their carbon footprint!—-even if we met garglers target 33% reduction by 2020—if 33% more people move here we gain nothing—campbell wants to open up offshore oil and gas exploration!—big subsidies for oil and gas ( so they can find more oil and gas to burn)—-bio-fuel will still produce co2s gasses—-gatewat road through the bog will probably destroy burns bog(the lower mainlands lungs) —-delta port expansion will put 5000 more big trucks on the road–twinning the port mann will make room for more cars!—a new development on burke moutain in coquitlam(which has been approved) will cut down 16000 old trees to make room for more sprawl!—-even if we went to california proposed tail pipe emission standards that would only reduce co2s at best 5%—-pine beetle tree rot will be and is canadas biggest co2 emitter!—-land giveaway to forest company on vancouver island is proposing major sprawl on west coast of the island, which will result for long rural commutes!–the only reason bc buys power from dirty fossil fuel generators in alberta and montana(in the middle of the night) is because we sell tons of power to california in the evening (and we make a ton of money from it ) if we stopped selling power to california we would not have to buy the dirt cheap dirty power!—-gordon gargler campbell has big buck for polluters in subsidies–and a now spent 4 billion surplus but can`t give all schools playground equipment!—68 million dollar cut to higher education at the last moment—where`s the 5000 long term seniors bed he promised 7 years ago—he`s still 4000 short—the olympic memorandom which was voted on was supposed to provide 2500 low cost social housing units (now scrapped)—every scientist says fish farms are killing wild salmon(except fish farm lobbyists) campbell remains silent!—-evergreen line has no confirmed funding!—at a photo op at surrey memorial hospital in 2005 just before the elction he promised to build an ambulatory unit and an expansion to the emergency department, star times was stated to be in 2007 and 2008—with completion in 2009 and 2010—well there`s still not a shovel in the ground and 2007 is gone 2008 a third gone and now completion times are for 2010 and 2011 maybe!—-royal columbian hospital is a disaster ( and remember campbell closed st mary hospital in new westminster in 2002) which was a good over flow facility!—-880 million dollar road to whistler(with no tolls)–3 million for india gate–200 million for a new art center!—400 million for retractable roof on a old tired dome!—convention center 600 million over budget–8 billion dollars in p3s that bc hasn`t paid for yet ,down the road payments ( done to keep the debt off the books) —–a higher provincial debt now than what we had in 2001!—–6 dollar an hour starter wage!—minimum wage hasn`t been raised at all in 7 years of this goverment( but he sure rewarded himself)—highest transit fares in north america—crime wave ,because there is no where to send the baddies( campbell closed over 500 correction cells in 2002)—-pitiful welfare rates!—dirty hospitals—woman help centers slashed!–dui for gordo!—-he broke the law with the bcgeu (cost gordo 87 million dollar settlement)—-major cuts to legal aid—campbell said he wouldn`t sell bc rail —-he sold it for pocket change!—bc rail used to piggy back trucks all over this province! now those trucks drive and drive and pollute as well as destroy our highways!—bc hospital (because of campbells outsourcing) laundrey get shipped to alberta, cleaned and shipped back!—I could go on but I will give you time to raise your jaw!——so go ahead and rah rah your hero gord doh ——————————-signed………………………….the devils in the details( or in this case in the premiers office)

    grant g

    April 30, 2008 at 3:03 pm

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