Time to ad­mit that Al­berta’s car­bon tax works

PressReader - LStep Channel - Time to ad­mit that Al­berta’s car­bon tax works
The Al­berta car­bon levy has be­come a po­lit­i­cal punch­ing bag for politi­cians and jour­nal­ists who want to win votes and sell news­pa­pers. This is very un­for­tu­nate as the levy — which has been in place for al­most two years now — hasn’t dam­aged the econ­omy or cost jobs.What the levy is do­ing is fund­ing im­por­tant in­fra­struc­ture like ru­ral pub­lic trans­porta­tion, light rail tran­sit in Ed­mon­ton and Cal­gary, a 33-per-cent re­duc­tion in the small busi­ness tax, re­bates for Al­ber­tans mak­ing less than $95,000 per year and the prov­ince’s hugely pop­u­lar en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency pro­grams.What is the car­bon levy? It is a di­rect price put onto fos­sil fu­els, such as gaso­line and nat­u­ral gas, that be­gins ac­count­ing for the so­cial cost of car­bon, which is the cost to so­ci­ety that car­bon pol­lu­tion brings. Much like how we pay a fee for our waste wa­ter and garbage, we now pay a fee for our car­bon pol­lu­tion.The car­bon levy works in two ways. First, as a free-mar­ket so­lu­tion, it im­poses a mod­est fee in­crease on those prod­ucts that emit pol­lu­tion. The idea is to make those prod­ucts a lit­tle more ex­pen­sive, so that over time, peo­ple will choose prod­ucts and ser­vices that are cheaper and lead to less over­all pol­lu­tion. It’s eco­nom­ics 101.Se­condly, it uses the rev­enue raised to off­set costs to lower-in­come fam­i­lies and in­vest in solutions for re­duc­ing Al­berta’s pol­lu­tion and en­ergy con­sump­tion, which will save us even more money in the long run. For ex­am­ple, pro­grams like the Res­i­den­tial No-charge En­ergy Sav­ings Pro­gram will save Al­ber­tans over $200 mil­lion over the life of the de­vices in­stalled.How do we know that the car­bon levy is not killing jobs or de­stroy­ing the econ­omy? We looked at the facts and eco­nomic data for 2017, which you can find in En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fence’s re­cently re­leased re­port Car­bon Pric­ing in Al­berta: A Re­view of its Suc­cesses and Im­pacts. What we found was that in 2017, the car­bon levy ap­pears to have had lit­tle, if any, im­pact on the econ­omy over­all.We looked at key eco­nomic in­di­ca­tors for 2017, in­clud­ing gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP), av­er­age weekly earn­ings, the un­em­ploy­ment rate, and the con­sumer price in­dex (CPI), in or­der to de­ter­mine if the car­bon levy had an im­pact on the Al­berta econ­omy.What we found was that 2017 was a re­ally great year for Al­berta’s econ­omy, grow­ing at a rate of 4.9 per cent, the fastest grow­ing econ­omy in the coun­try. Wages were up, un­em­ploy­ment was down, and the CPI, the mea­sure­ment of how much key goods changed in price, was one per cent, a pretty low num­ber for in­fla­tion. The car­bon levy did not get in the way of a grow­ing econ­omy.This re­port fol­lows data that is pub­licly avail­able to any per­son; the con­clu­sion that we reached is straight­for­ward and is sup­ported by econ­o­mists from around the world who point out that a car­bon price is the most ef­fi­cient free-mar­ket tool avail­able in the fight against cli­mate change. All of which is prob­a­bly why car­bon pric­ing is sup­ported by the Cana­dian Cham­ber of Com­merce and by the ma­jor­ity of oil and gas com­pa­nies in Canada.It is fine to be crit­i­cal of a new gov­ern­ment pol­icy, but what is disin­gen­u­ous is for crit­ics to of­fer no al­ter­na­tives to the car­bon levy. And it’s es­pe­cially disin­gen­u­ous given that if Al­berta re­peals the Al­berta car­bon levy, then the fed­eral car­bon price will take its place and Al­berta will lose the fund­ing for the pop­u­lar pro­grams that both help re­duce car­bon pol­lu­tion and save Al­ber­tans money.The car­bon levy also helps to di­ver­sify Al­berta’s econ­omy by in­creas­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in re­new­able en­ergy, clean tech­nol­ogy and other in­dus­tries. With the in­ter­na­tional drive to a low-car­bon fu­ture putting Al­berta’s oil and gas fu­ture in doubt, the prov­ince needs to plan for a di­ver­si­fied fu­ture.The car­bon levy is one of the tools that can get Al­berta there. It’s clear that car­bon levy is work­ing; it’s time for all Al­ber­tans to ac­cept this and look for­ward.What is disin­gen­u­ous is for crit­ics to of­fer no al­ter­na­tives.

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