National Post (Latest Edition)

Your carbon bill has finally arrived

- Kenneth Green Kenneth Green is senior director of natural resource studies at the Fraser Institute.

It took some poking and prodding and (finally) committee testimony, but now we know what the bill will be for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax. In a report to the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environmen­t and Natural Resources, University of Calgary economics professor Jennifer Winter revealed the bottom line of the Trudeau Carbon Price.

Using energy-consumptio­n data from Statistics Canada, and imputing prices from average household expenditur­e on transporta­tion fuels and provincial gasoline prices, Winter calculated the impact of the carbon tax on a typical Canadian household across different provinces. Far from being painless as advertised, the costs to households will be significan­t.

Three provinces — Alberta, Saskatchew­an and Nova Scotia — will be hit with more than $1,000 of carbon tax per year to comply with the $50-per-tonne carbon tax Ottawa has mandated for 2022. Nova Scotia ($1,120) and Alberta ($1,111) will have the highest bills, followed by Saskatchew­an ($1,032), New Brunswick ($963), Newfoundla­nd ($859) and Prince Edward Island ($788). The average household in Ontario will pay $707 a year to comply with the carbon tax once its fully implemente­d.

Who gets the lowest bill? British Columbia ($603 per year), Quebec ($662) and Manitoba ($683). Simply put, households in provinces with the lowest bills will pay just a bit more than half compared to households in the hardest-hit provinces.

But it gets worse, since most experts say carbon prices must continue to increase sharply to effectivel­y lower emissions. At $100 a tonne, for example, households in Alberta will pony up $2,223, in Saskatchew­an they’ll pay $2,065 and in Nova Scotia, $2,240. In fact, at $100 a tonne, the average price for households in all provinces is well north of $1,000 per year.

Already across Canada, particular­ly in the Maritimes, a significan­t number of households fit the definition of “energy poverty” — that is, 10 per cent or more of household expenditur­es are spent simply procuring the energy needed to live (to power the home and transporta­tion). In 2016, the Fraser Institute measured energy poverty in Canada and found that when you add up the costs to power the home and cars, 19.4 per cent of Canadian households devoted at least 10 per cent or more of their expenditur­es to energy.

Alberta had the lowest incidence of energy poverty in 2013 at 12.8 per cent. But this predates, and thus does not include, Trudeau’s carbon tax, which can only exacerbate energy poverty nationwide. This is unconscion­able in a country with the world’s third-largest proven oil reserves and is the fourthlarg­est generator of hydropower.

Simply put, carbon taxes were enacted on a false premise: That economists can design carbon taxes that lower emissions at the least possible cost while shielding the economy from the drag of an added tax. And they surely can — on a blackboard.

One could design a carbon tax that’s revenue neutral, that supplants carbon-limiting regulation­s, that starts at the social cost of carbon, properly deflated for the cost of raising funds and the discount of the future value of funds. That model is well establishe­d, but that’s not how we implement carbon taxes in Canada. Here, carbon taxes have become simply a tax-and-spend model that lets government­s spend ever more trying to pick winners and losers in the energy sector.

That’s one reason why Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney, Saskatchew­an Premier Scott Moe and others have called for ending carbon tax mandates in Canada, and for repealing current carbon-pricing systems in Ontario and Alberta. Now it’s time for the Trudeau government to admit that its proposed carbon tax will significan­tly burden families across Canada today for a climate benefit too small to measure by 2100.

It’s time to unwind carbon pricing and focus instead on where we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by, for example, facilitati­ng natural gas production and transport and by investing in fundamenta­l research and developmen­t to find loweremiss­ion ways to generate energy that are less expensive than affordable alternativ­es such as natural gas, oil and coal.

 ?? DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES ?? A University of Calgary professor has calculated the impact of the federal carbon tax on Canadian households.
DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES A University of Calgary professor has calculated the impact of the federal carbon tax on Canadian households.

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