Here’s how to make car­bon pric­ing hon­est

The Beacon Herald - - OPINION -

Here are some ques­tions for Canada’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers. If Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and pre­miers like On­tario’s Kath­leen Wynne and Al­berta’s Rachel Not­ley be­lieve hu­man­ity faces an im­mi­nent, ex­is­ten­tial threat from man-made cli­mate change, what does that have to do with in­creas­ing govern­ment rev­enues?

If their goal is to re­duce in­dus­trial green­house gas emis­sions, why is their so­lu­tion mak­ing Cana­di­ans poorer through a car­bon tax, or cap and trade, a car­bon tax by an­other name?

What makes them think they know how to lower emis­sions by pick­ing eco­nomic win­ners and losers through pub­lic sub­si­dies to big busi­ness, sub­si­dies funded by the bil­lions of dol­lars their car­bon pric­ing schemes are ex­tract­ing from Cana­di­ans?

Fi­nally, since they’re im­pos­ing car­bon pric­ing, why don’t they do it in the most hon­est, trans­par­ent and ef­fec­tive way, called car­bon fee and div­i­dend? Here’s how it works: Gov­ern­ments, through their ex­ist­ing tax agen­cies, set and col­lect a grad­u­ally in­creas­ing car­bon fee on all fos­sil fu­els at their first point of sale.

All of the money is then re­turned to Cana­di­ans monthly, as equal div­i­dend pay­ments, with half pay­ments for chil­dren younger than 18, to a max­i­mum of two chil­dren a fam­ily. (The au­di­tor gen­eral could po­lice this to con­firm gov­ern­ments aren’t skim­ming.)

All govern­ment sub­si­dies to in­dus­try are elim­i­nated un­der car­bon fee and div­i­dend, since all the money goes back to tax­pay­ers.

Based on av­er­age con­sump­tion, 60 per cent of Cana­dian house­holds would re­ceive a higher div­i­dend cheque than they pay in car­bon fees (be­cause their con­sump­tion is be­low av­er­age). Along with all Cana­di­ans, they then make their own con­sumer choices about how to save more money by buy­ing more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient, and thus less ex­pen­sive, goods and ser­vices.

Thus, busi­nesses are driven by the mar­ket­place, not sub­si­dies, to lower their emis­sions through tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion, to pro­duce less ex­pen­sive prod­ucts and achieve greater mar­ket share.

A study pre­pared for Cit­i­zens’ Cli­mate Lobby pre­dicts car­bon fee and div­i­dend would re­duce emis­sions by 50 per cent be­low 1990 lev­els within two decades — far be­yond what our gov­ern­ments are claim­ing— while cre­at­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of jobs.

So why aren’t politi­cians (save for the Green Party) in­ter­ested? Be­cause car­bon fee and div­i­dend re­duce emis­sions; it doesn’t in­crease govern­ment rev­enues. — Post­media Net­work

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