Wednesday, June 25, 2008

60 Percent Campaign – Carbon Shift

Before I embark on the wonderful world of carbon tax, I want to congratulate Canadian Tire for putting Cascades recycled toilet paper and paper towels on the shelves – even the plastic packaging is recycled. In my April 17 issue I encouraged readers to join Doug Hart’s campaign to encourage Canadian Tire to sell recycled TP.

The product is unbleached and produced with 80% less water than the industrial average, according to Caroline Casselman, Associate VP, Corporate Social Responsibility & Public Affairs at Canadian Tire. You can buy Cascades products at Canadian Tire stores across the country.

Some Facts and a Deduction

Fact 1
Sweden, Norway, and the UK introduced carbon taxes in the 1990s.

Fact 2
It is anticipated that all three countries will meet their Kyoto targets by the assigned date of 2012.

Fact 3
Current GDP growth in Sweden doubles that of Germany and France. Meanwhile, Norway boasts the second highest GDP per capita in the world. The UK, the fifth largest economy in the world, has recently seen the longest period of sustained economic growth in more than 150 years.

Carbon taxes can be an effective way to meet greenhouse gas targets without hurting the economy.

In fact, Jim Hansen, the Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world’s leading authorities on climate change recently endorsed the carbon tax as a viable strategy to steer us away from runaway global warming.

Liberal Announcement
Stephan Dion announced on June 19 the Canadian Liberal Party’s Green Shift Plan, to be rolled out at some point in time when Canadians decides they’ve had enough of Prime Minister Harper. Dion’s plan, which is basically a carbon tax proposal, was met with such jeers from Conservatives and some media pundits and letter writers you’d think he was proposing a big greedy Liberal tax grab…well, that’s actually what they accused him of.

With all the shaking of heads and gnashing of teeth, you’d think that the whole idea is just crazy bad. And stupid. And a big fat Liberal tax grab. And silly.

A Biased Sober Explanation of the Carbon Tax
Allow me to take a stab at it. The raison d’être of a carbon tax is to tax polluting behaviour and in so doing to shift the market to a more sustainable model.

Currently, industry can spew toxins and greenhouse gases into the air and water without paying for the costs associated with this pollution. They basically can pollute for free. But someone has to pay for the mess, both financially and in immeasurable ways (how do you put a price tag on human illness and loss of habitat to endangered species?). Who has to pay? The public, of course! You and I pay through our hard earned dollars and, depending on where you live, the things we buy. (We pay in other ways as well – illness, loss of loved ones, property damage, and on and on).

This is our current tax model. Sound fair? It doesn’t to me.

Why not tax industry for their pollution since pollution affects the public? And while government is at it, reduce the amount of income tax you and I have to pay. The price of goods will increase due to the tax, but this in theory will be balanced out with the reduction in income tax.

The tax would also give industry an economic incentive to clean up its operations. And green industry, such as the renewable energy sector, will finally find itself competitively vying for the public’s business.

The poor ole carbon tax has taken a beating this past week. In theory, the carbon tax is a sensible approach to turning our polluting ways around. Like anything, the devil is in the detail. Will the tax on polluters be enough to affect change? Will it truly be tax neutral?

For now, I want to thank Stephan Dion for actually standing up and finally showing some leadership on one of the most pressing issues of our time. If Sweden can do it so can Canada!

Further Reading

Wikipedia on Carbon Tax

CBC - The carbon tax: The pros and cons of a tax on fossil fuels

Liberal Party Green Shift Plan

Green Party Green Shift Plan

In the News

Ontario eyed for wind turbine factory
According to Helimax Energy Inc., there is enough potential wind power on the Ontario side of the Great Lakes to power all businesses, homes and industry in the province when the wind blows. So why is Ontario planning to dump its money in nuclear?

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