carbon tax

BC's Election

Is over and the centre-right Liberals won. Many in the traditional environmental movement are trumpeting it as a referendum on the BC Carbon Tax. I am not so sure. The so called people who were supposed to vote for the opposition left leaning NDP, but did not because of their (admittedly stupid) opposition to the “gas tax” also gave the Green Party their lowest share of the vote in the last few years. I am finding it hard to imagine a left leaning voter voting for the Liberals instead of the NDP, rather than throwing her vote on the Green Party.

The truth is probably a lot simpler. Carole James of the NDP did not resonate with voters as an alternative for many reasons, poor campaign positioning, lack of vision, poor media coverage, etc. and in tough economic times, BC just made what it considered a safe choice.

Of course, BC also made a “safe” choice and rejected a proportional representation system for the province. More will be known once any exit poll data is released, but a proposal which came within a couple of percentage points of passing in the last election failed roundly this time. There is early speculation that it was how the question was asked. I would have preferred a multi-party proportional system to reduce the stranglehold of the two major parties and get some Green Party representation in the legislature.

Anyway, full speed ahead for BC’s puny Carbon Tax, which will go all the way to $30 a ton in a couple of years, let’s see what that does to compensate for The Liberal’s penchant for massive road building, offshore drilling ideas and “business friendly” privatization of the commons approach to governance.

BC Carbon Tax regressive?

British Columbians with low incomes will benefit from the carbon tax in its first year, but will pay more by the scheme’s third year, a new study concludes.

The impact of the tax and its offsetting income tax cuts will become increasingly unequal unless the provincial government increases payments to low-income earners, the study says.

The study, by Marc Lee, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Toby Sanger, senior economist with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, takes a detailed look at the fairness of the controversial tax.

via Carbon Tax Whacks the Poor, Later :: News ::

The report makes some good points. Revenue neutrality (the offsetting of carbon taxes with income/corporate tax cuts) has nothing to do with reducing carbon emissions. If I were to redesign this tax, I would do as the report says, increase rebates to lower income people, reduce corporate tax cuts so that the resulting revenue can be used to fund more transit infrastructure, energy efficiency infrastructure and the building of a low carbon economy.

A carbon tax in itself is not sufficient to reduce emissions. It does its part, but building an energy efficient, low carbon infrastructure will do a lot more and the money’s there, just use it.

You can read the whole report here.