(This op-ed by Paige MacPherson, Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, was published in the Financial Post on Thursday, December 3, 2015.)
Alberta’s new broad-based carbon tax is a tax on everything that moves.
That will rise to over $900 per year for the average family by 2030. Some can expect rebates, but we have little idea what that will look like.
The price of clothing, food and everything transported will also increase. Shutting down coal-fired electricity plants and subsidizing green energy companies (corporate welfare by a friendlier name) will raise electricity prices. The province will lose investment, and rural communities will be hit hard.
Every policy must be measured on its impacts. It’s crucial to weigh the impacts of the carbon tax on Albertan families, businesses and rural communities, compared to the impacts the carbon tax could have on global climate change.
Let’s rely on the sunniest of predictions for reducing Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The government-commissioned report states, “implementation of our full policy framework … would roughly stabilize emissions, by 2030, just above current levels at approximately 270 (megatonnes).”
The report notes we produced 267 megatonnes in 2013. The idea is to stop our emissions from growing, but let’s be clear: that is three megatonnes more than we produced in 2013.
Canada contributes 1.65 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions – nothing compared to big emitters China and the U.S. – according to recently released World Resources Institute data for 2012. (It was also recent revealed that China has been underreporting its coal consumption by up to 17 per cent.)
Of Canada’s emissions, Environment Canada says oil-rich Alberta contributed 36.8 per cent in 2013.
Using the predictions in Alberta’s climate report, under a carbon tax we’ll increase our emissions by 1.1 per cent (from 2013 levels) by 2030. So after 13 years of the carbon tax, we’ll have increased global emissions by 0.007 per cent, versus an increase of one tenth of a percent if we had no carbon tax.
It’s like arguing whether you should use a shot glass or an eye-dropper to fill a swimming pool.
Either way we’ll have done virtually nothing to reduce global climate change. But a carbon tax will have certainly made Albertans poorer.
In the best-case scenario, after 13 years of Albertans each paying thousands in carbon taxes, we’ll kick out 50 megatonnes less than we would otherwise.
Put another way: China increases its emissions by that same amount every three and a half months.
It was reported that Premier Notley was listening to Ontario advisers when crafting Alberta’s energy policy. (Remember when Ontario was a "have" province?)
In 2009, then-Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty introduced the Green Energy Act, promising a new green economy, lush with jobs and opportunity.
Four years later, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced – with Al Gore at her side, no less – the shutdown of coal-fired power plants.
Since then, Ontario’s electricity rates have skyrocketed. Between 2010 and 2015, on-peak electricity prices rose by 77 per cent.
A 2015 Ontario Chamber of Commerce survey showed one in 20 Ontario businesses expect to close their doors in the next five years due to increased electricity prices.
Green energy subsidies have been a disaster.
Wind and solar provided less than four per cent of Ontarians’ power in 2013, but comprised 20 per cent of the total direct electricity costs portion of electricity bills paid by Ontarians.
Since 2006, Ontarians have dished out $1.9 billion in green energy subsidies, which didn’t have the magical job creation powers taxpayers were promised.
Instead, they were classic corporate welfare: over 90 per cent of the subsidies were given to just 11 wealthy companies.
The Alberta government also seems keen to funnel revenue into green energy subsidies. Corporate welfare lost Alberta billions of dollars in the 80s and 90s and is no laudable goal.
Don’t buy the spin. This carbon tax is anything but revenue neutral. Thankfully, that’s been pointed out by experts. Revenue neutral means the government gives all of the revenue back to Albertans in tax cuts.
Taxing Albertans and spending it on social programs and corporate welfare is just plain old taxing and spending.
The negative impact that the carbon tax will have on Albertan families, businesses and rural communities far outweighs the infinitesimal impact on global climate change.
We may be drunk on fuzzy feelings right now, but we need to sober up and face the facts.
READ Ezra Levant's bestselling books debunking environmentalist propaganda against the energy industry:
Groundswell: The Case for Fracking and Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands
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