Stephen Rees's blog

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

Opposition to the Carbon Tax

with 10 comments

Following up on that piece about Carol James, she seems to be reacting to polling data. The Province this morning has the figures from the latest Ipsos Reid poll which shows that while people hate the gas tax that has yet to be translated into hating the Liberals. Which is very strange indeed.

By the way, when I started looking for the link (the story was posted to a mailing list without one) my new Firefox 3 browser helpfully reminded me that I was going to pass along this opinion piece which – even more oddly – came out of the Montreal Gazette reecently. It is fairly typical of Alan Ferguson

The trouble with the tunnel-visioned eco-idealists advising the premier is that they can’t see outside the narrow confines of their own obsession.

There is nothing much narrow about the concern that, at the present rate of progress, humanity seems likely to be massively reduced on this planet, if not wiped out altogether. For the other species we have been decimating this may actually be a bit of a relief. Like I have said before, the planet will still be here a thousand years from now. The future for us seems a great deal worse. The new ecology will work as well or better. We won’t be here to see it. This is obviously a new defintion of “eco-idealism” that had not previously occurred to me.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 18, 2008 at 10:55 am

Posted in greenhouse gas reduction

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10 Responses

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  1. Yes, tsk, tsk, it’s so very narrow minded and obsessive of you to keep focusing on something as obviously trivial as the survival humanity. I mean, what could you possibly be thinking? A more open minded person would not be afraid to embrace the possibility of total annihilation due to pure, unadulterated, mind-numbing stupidity. Why do you have to be such a bummer about that? You’re, like, totally spoiling everyone’s trip!

    Nathan Koren

    June 18, 2008 at 3:15 pm

  2. Er, apparently your commenting system strips out the HTML “sarcasm” tags…

    Nathan Koren

    June 18, 2008 at 3:16 pm

  3. The articles just demonstrate the poor quality of political leadership and journalistic integrity across the board.

    Where is the Round Table / Citizen’s Assembly on Climate Change? The print media’s permanent Climate Change Discussion Page hosted by independent climate scientists? The International Panel on Climate Change – Regional Adaptation Branch? Beefed up climate research units in ministries of environment? The compilation of citizen, NGO and independent scientific Web links related to climate change? The Conversation on Food and Energy Security? The Climate Change Urban and Rural Adaptation Ombudsman’s Office? The Office of Strategic Climate Change Planning, and it’s province-wide design and planning charettes for communities? The Provincial Renewable Fuels Action Plan for Celulosic Ethanol for public and commercial fleets and agricultural vehicles? The Sustainable Renewal of Cities project? The Economic Research Project Toward Adaptation to Climate Change?


    June 18, 2008 at 3:55 pm

  4. To Meredith —-I strongly reccomend that you read the Michael Smyth column in the Province newspaper in the june 19 edition—-Have a good read and when your finished reading that very informative factual column, get back to me would ya.

    Maybe Mr. Rees would be good enough to supply the link.

    grant g

    June 19, 2008 at 1:25 am

  5. From the Victoria Times Colonist today…
    “NDP clever but phoney on carbon tax

    Les Leyne, Times Colonist

    Published: Thursday, June 19, 2008

    New Democrat Leader Carole James’ “axe the tax” campaign is an adroit, perfectly timed move that could galvanize support and define her career.

    It’s also the phoniest stand she’s ever taken on a public issue.

    The most adept part of the entire Opposition anti-gas tax strategy is that part where they have successfully buried the fact that the NDP supports a carbon tax, too. And a carbon tax, however and wherever you apply it, equals higher gas prices.

    NDP policy states: “Carole James and the NDP support emission pricing and believe the best approach is an integrated one that includes a carbon tax at source, focuses on big polluters and ensures record oil and gas profits are used to support reductions in emissions.

    “Implementing a system of pricing emissions at source is a way of reducing emissions that has been used in many countries.”

    Is there any doubt about how companies “at source” cover the cost of that emission tax?

    Of course not. They pass it on. The NDP quietly admits that halfway through their framework. “All pricing models include a cost to consumers.” “


    June 19, 2008 at 8:51 am

  6. Michael Smyth needs to address mitigating climate change in his columns rather than merely knocking down every idea that is ever proposed even before they are launched. That’s the route of “easy journalism” which does not require much research, or acceptance of the responsibility of constructive, positive discourse.

    The carbon tax as proposed will not have the intended effect (i.e. to lower GHG emissions by changing consumer’s behaviour) but the high market prices of petroleum fuels will.

    The fact the CT does not cover industry is a failure to treat / price all emissions fairly. A tonne of CO2 should have the same price whether emitted by Alcan, a Hummer, or a Moped. When the CT is activated, companies like Alcan will pay zero whereas the rest of us will pay something like $15 / tonne intially and up to $30 / tonne eventually. (These figures are probably not accurate, but are likely within the intended range). The other failure of the CT is that it actually does not finance anything, notably global warming mitigation measures.

    Marc Jaccard, the author of BC’s CT, proposed a tax that was equal across the board in his book “Hot Air”, but that got lost somewhere in Gordo’s translation. This does not bode well for a fair cap and trade system in BC.

    Every member of our society, rich and poor, is going to experience very real hardship for a long time as the effects of global warming become more apparent over the years, but most scientists — whose opinions I respect way more than journalists — believe the pain will be far, far greater if Doing Nothing or Doing Too Little become the only options ever practiced.

    The effects of climate change will vary from place to place; some places (eg. Bangladesh, Vanuatu, Richmond, Granville Island, Halifax …) will be impacted more seriously than others. I’d say the poor (especially in developing or decimated countries where being poor is truly life-threatening) require insulation from the most drastic measures needed to counter climate change, and some kind of additional protection from the most pervasive effects.

    One example could be the slow evacuation of Richmond over a ten-year period sometime before 2050 if the seas rise faster than predicted. All indications are that is what is actually happening. How do you pay for that?


    June 19, 2008 at 1:19 pm

  7. Some interesting reading; the Bruvoll and Larsen report shows that excluding selected industries from a carbon tax defeats the the purposes of the tax. Perhaps it has already been discussed here.

    As well Bill McKibben in the Deep Economy discusses Cuba as the first country that hit peak oil when the old Soviet Union fell apart. It took collective action to change many of their systems and large investment in education to allow Cuba to adapt their agriculture system to the new reality they faced. McKibben although panned is some circles as wanting to return the world to a past century does present more a positive and optimistic vision of the future. I think the key to change and scaling down our society is move away from our fixation on growth and present all segments of society with a vision in which they can see change as an opportunity to enrich their lives. Perhaps I am too naive.

    Greenhouse gas emissions in Norway: do carbon taxes work?

    Annegrete Bruvoll, and Bodil Merethe Larsen


    During the last decade, Norway has carried out an ambitious climate policy. The main policy tool is a relatively high carbon tax, which was implemented already in 1991. Data for the development in CO2 emissions since then provide a unique opportunity to evaluate carbon taxes as a policy tool. To reveal the driving forces behind the changes in the three most important climate gases, CO2, methane and N2O in the period 1990–1999, we decompose the actually observed emissions changes, and use an applied general equilibrium simulation to look into the specific effect of carbon taxes. Although total emissions have increased, we find a significant reduction in emissions per unit of GDP over the period due to reduced energy intensity, changes in the energy mix and reduced process emissions. Despite considerable taxes and price increases for some fuel-types, the carbon tax effect has been modest. While the partial effect from lower energy intensity and energy mix changes was a reduction in CO2 emissions of 14 percent, the carbon taxes contributed to only 2 percent reduction. This relatively small effect relates to extensive tax exemptions and relatively inelastic demand in the sectors in which the tax is actually implemented.

    If anyone is interested a downloadable copy is available at


    June 19, 2008 at 5:23 pm

  8. The point I was trying to make is that Gordon Campbell is nothing but a fraud.
    Campbells idea about climate change is a con,Campbell locks us in with his actions,the public gets fleeced and his corporate polluting freinds carry on with business as usual.

    When technology and advancements arrive BCers will buy into it but in the meantime Campbell is a one man enviroment destroying machine!
    That is why it is nothing but foolish and counter productive to “praise” the Campbell tax,it needs to be called what it is,a GIMMICK ,a PR stunt.

    All new housing should be built to new standards but don`t go around punishing people that cannot afford 10s of thousands to save yearly hundreds.

    A society of just Campbells rich freinds and big wigs carring on as usual is an assault upon everyone,you must go after the big polluters,you must get the car world to deliver clean transportation but in the meantime until that happens leave the people the hell alone!

    grant g

    June 19, 2008 at 5:56 pm

  9. By the way—–Mark Jaccard is paid a big chunk of cash from the BC Liberals to spin for Gordo!

    grant g

    June 19, 2008 at 5:59 pm

  10. Ron, I fully agree that people — and society as a whole — must see the necessary changes as opportunities to enrich their lives. I would also say that a new politics must energe where great emphasis is placed on increasing quality of life as we make our communities more efficient.

    And the article demonstrates in Norway’s exaple proof that an inequitably distributed carbon tax has a negligible effect.


    June 20, 2008 at 10:48 am

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