Avi Lewis - Rachel Notley is the "new patron saint of the corporate welfare bums"

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Pogo Pogo's picture

Kind of like the old Sea-Sky Highway bridges, except without the light posts.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Why carbon taxes burn workers

SAY WHAT you like about the “gilet jaunes” (“yellow vests”) in France, there is one conclusion we climate activists must draw. We must have nothing to do with carbon taxes, in any form. This article explains why.

A carbon tax is a tax on burning any fuel that puts carbon dioxide into the air and thus increases climate change. The idea — and it sounds good — is that because people have to pay that bit more, they will ration their use of those fuels. That way, we can slow down climate change. That’s why so many climate activists, especially in the U.S., have campaigned for carbon taxes.

But carbon taxes are always unfair to poor people and people on average incomes. We pay a larger proportion of our incomes on heating, on transportation and on electric bills than richer people do. So we pay a larger proportion of our total income on a carbon tax.

Moreover, because our incomes are lower, we really feel the extra tax. And we can’t reduce our usage much, because we still have to cook, heat the house and get to work.

It’s not just that carbon taxes are unfair. After all, many climate activists say that if it’s unfair and it still stops climate change, then it’s worth it. There’s something to be said for that point of view. After all, ordinary people are going to pay a lot more for the effects of climate change than we will ever pay in carbon taxes.

But the real kicker is the political effect of the unfairness. It opens a window for the right wing — the climate deniers and the oil and coal companies. They can build a coalition between themselves, those who want no climate action, and large numbers of ordinary people who feel cheated by affluent greens. That coalition can be devastating because the environmentalists are hit from two sides.

This has happened many times. It’s how the “yellow vests” started out in France, though they have gone far beyond that now, and what they are doing is wonderful.

Still, they got the carbon tax on diesel fuel repealed. Many in the environmental movement, particularly outside France, felt that as a defeat.

quote:

Take the French example. The “yellow vests” were protesting against a rise in the tax on diesel fuel. That would have led to a small fall in emissions — maybe.

Instead of putting higher taxes in place, the government could have announced that in four years’ time, all new vehicles had to fully electric. And that vehicle owners would get loans to replace their cars and trucks. And that the government would hire 10,000 workers to build a grid of electrical charging points all over the country. And give grants to encourage new electric car factories in France.

Electric vehicles powered by coal and gas-fired power plants already use about a third less emissions than vehicles that run on oil. That’s a bigger cut in emissions than a carbon tax. It’s more new jobs. And it provides the possibility in future of running all road transport on electricity from solar and wind power. That would cut almost all emissions from transport.

That’s one example. The climate jobs campaigns I have worked with provide lots of other examples. You can cut emissions by a huge amount by moving people from cars to buses. Instead of making cars more expensive, you just say that buses will have two lanes reserved for them on major roads during the rush hour. Or all day on some roads. Then public buses move much more quickly than traffic does now, and people get on the bus.

Mighty Middle

Former NDP Sask Finance Minster (and 2015 NDP Candidate) Andrew Thomson is now a regular panelist on CBC Power & Politics, and he opposes the Carbon Tax. Everytime the subject of a price on carbon comes up, he bashes the concept behind carbon pricing. And he is supposed to be representing the NDP point of view on the panel!

JKR

So why not simply return to citzens all the money collected by a carbon fee? Most of the money collected by such a carbon fee could go just to people with lower and middle incomes making the fee progressive.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..returning the money in itself doesn't go far enough in dealing with the crisis. governments must be proactive in making change. an example of how not to do it:

Could Congestion Tolls on Roads Mean Free Metro Transport for All?

Last week, Metro CEO Phil Washington endorsed a bold proposal: implement congestion tolls on drivers to make public transportation free. If the proposal moves forward, it would fit into a number of projects Metro has in the works, which all aim to turn Los Angeles into a seamless public transportation utopia before the Olympics come to town.

“We think that with congestion pricing done right, we can be the only city in the world to offer free transit service in time for the 2028 Olympics,” Curbed reports Washington said during his presentation to the Metro Board of Directors.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..more from #53

quote:

The whole point in carbon taxes is that they assume fossil fuels will go on being used. Otherwise why tax? Worse, they build in a perverse incentive for governments to keep fossil fuels in place to keep taxes flowing.

THE CLIMATE jobs campaigns I have been involved with have faced a parallel problem. In Britain, we built a campaign with a lot of union support for a government program for a million new permanent climate jobs, most of them in renewable energy, public transport and building conversion.

At first, our campaign was split over whether these should be all public-sector jobs. Many of the environmentalists who were involved were sympathetic to small business or to cooperatives.

But one thing swung us toward public-sector jobs. We knew we had to guarantee that if anyone lost their job in an old high-carbon industry, they would be guaranteed retraining and a new permanent climate job. If we said private companies would deliver that, everyone would know that was a lie.

We want that job guarantee because those oil-tanker drivers and natural-gas workers should not be punished. They built our economy. But not just because it’s right. If we don’t do that, we will divide the union movement, divide the working class and divide the electorate.

There are lots of examples of this. In South Africa, many environmentalists supported a program where the government gave contracts to private renewable energy companies, almost all from Europe. The amount of renewable energy was a small proportion of what was needed. There were hardly any jobs for South Africans — most jobs in renewable energy are in manufacturing.

South Africa has a public-sector electricity company called ESKOM that uses mainly South African-mined coal. The government threatened to close coal mines because of the renewable-energy contracts. The main coal miners’ union and the metal workers’ union threatened to strike against renewable energy to preserve jobs in a country with 40 percent unemployment.

Many environmentalists backed the government and the European companies, because they cared about climate change, even though the contracts were only going to provide less than 10 percent of the energy South Africa needs. The climate jobs campaign in South Africa has a program for a million new jobs, almost half of them in renewable energy in the public sector, with a promise of a permanent job for every coal miner.

quizzical

Mighty Middle wrote:

Former NDP Sask Finance Minster (and 2015 NDP Candidate) Andrew Thomson is now a regular panelist on CBC Power & Politics, and he opposes the Carbon Tax. Everytime the subject of a price on carbon comes up, he bashes the concept behind carbon pricing. And he is supposed to be representing the NDP point of view on the panel!

good for him. happy someone is.

all this being around when we need to get rid of plastic use and methane. imv.

cco

Quote:

The whole point in carbon taxes is that they assume fossil fuels will go on being used. Otherwise why tax? Worse, they build in a perverse incentive for governments to keep fossil fuels in place to keep taxes flowing.

This is the problem with a revenue-neutral carbon tax, for sure. You can tax to raise revenue, or you can tax to discourage behaviour. Occasionally, like with tobacco taxes being tied to health-care spending, you can do both at the same time, but a carbon tax coupled with rebates or income tax cuts incentivizes people to keep their emissions high and governments to keep their emissions-based revenue high.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

cco wrote:
Quote:

The whole point in carbon taxes is that they assume fossil fuels will go on being used. Otherwise why tax? Worse, they build in a perverse incentive for governments to keep fossil fuels in place to keep taxes flowing.

This is the problem with a revenue-neutral carbon tax, for sure. You can tax to raise revenue, or you can tax to discourage behaviour. Occasionally, like with tobacco taxes being tied to health-care spending, you can do both at the same time, but a carbon tax coupled with rebates or income tax cuts incentivizes people to keep their emissions high and governments to keep their emissions-based revenue high.

..maybe. my point would be that this could occur in theory. here is a reality which i believe means that in the end, (as in the case of la free transit on top of the olympic cost) real price paid will flow downward. that is also the same idea that the tarsands cleanup will fall on alberta and canada populations and not the industry.  

Most Oil Sector Emissions Will Be Exempt From Federal Carbon Pricing: Report

quote:

Canadian environment groups are at the global climate-change conference in Poland today calling out the federal government for letting the oil and gas industry undermine Canada's efforts to be a climate leader.

Environmental Defence and Stand Earth are among the groups releasing a report that shows emissions from the oil-and-gas sector continue to rise and intensive lobbying from the industry means about 80 per cent of those emissions will be exempt from the federal carbon price.

The report said Canada's climate framework does not include policies that adequately address oil and gas industry emissions. Therefore, any emission reductions in the plan are expected to be overwhelmed by emissions from oil and gas production increases.

Mighty Middle

quizzical wrote:

good for him. happy someone is.

all this being around when we need to get rid of plastic use and methane. imv.

cco wrote:

This is the problem with a revenue-neutral carbon tax, for sure. You can tax to raise revenue, or you can tax to discourage behaviour. Occasionally, like with tobacco taxes being tied to health-care spending, you can do both at the same time, but a carbon tax coupled with rebates or income tax cuts incentivizes people to keep their emissions high and governments to keep their emissions-based revenue high.

So should the NDP switch tactics and start opposing a price on carbon to make themselves be different from not only the Liberals, but the Green party as well?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

With courage, there is a way forward for the federal NDP

Brent Patterson

While the situation may look bleak for Jagmeet Singh's NDP, this political moment offers the party an opportunity to rebrand itself in light of Jeremy Corbyn's success with a bolder vision for the Labour Party in the United Kingdom.

Corbyn's more progressive positioning has seen the party increase to 540,000 members (up from the 190,000 members under centrist Ed Miliband), fundraising spike to £55.8 million (up from £39.6 million under Miliband), and most significantly Labour winning 12.8 million votes in the 2017 election (compared to its 9.3 million votes in the 2015 election).

By contrast, the NDP is losing incumbent MPs, facing challenges with fundraising, and bracing for its number of sitting members to be cut in half next year.

At least nine incumbent NDP MPs will not be running in the October 2019 election. They include Fin Donnelly, Kennedy Stewart, Romeo Saganash, Hélène Laverdière, Tom Mulcair, David Christopherson, Irene Mathyssen, Linda Duncan, and Sheila Malcolmson.

NDP MP Murray Rankin has said he'll make an announcement in early January about his plans for the upcoming federal election.

Then there's the issue of fundraising.

Overall, in 2017, the party raised $4.86 million from 39,053 donors. While that's a significant amount of revenue, the NDP had revenues of at least $9 million a year from 2003 to 2015.

In January, February, and March of this year, the party raised $1,372,760 from 16,132 donors. Then in April, May and June, it raised $872,401 from 12,451 donors. That's actually up from the same period last year when it raised $825,985 from 12,448 donors.

Still, the party ended 2017 with $6.2 million in assets and $9.3 million in liabilities for a net negative balance of $3.1 million.

And there's the seat count now being projected for 2019.

The NDP won 44 seats with 3,470,350 votes and 19.71 per cent of the popular vote in the 2015 election. This was significantly down from the 103 seats they had won with 4,508,474 votes and 30.63 per cent of the popular vote in the 2011 election.

With the NDP now at 15.5 per cent in the polls, CBC pollster Éric Grenier is projecting that the party would win about 19 seats in 2019.

While it may have seemed strategic to former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair to chart a centrist path in the 2015 election, it meant that Justin Trudeau was able to outflank the NDP on the left and win a majority government with the vote that was seeking real change.

With seemingly little left to lose on its current path, an emboldened NDP with visionary policies to address climate breakdown, the rise of right-wing populism and the evident failures of capitalism could very well appeal to millennial voters.

Millennials (those born since 1980) will form the largest-single voting bloc in the 2019 election and together with Generation Xers (those born between 1964 and 1979) will represent two-thirds of the electorate next year.

Trudeau has betrayed the trust they placed in him in 2015, notably with his push for tar sands pipelines that worsen climate breakdown, his about-face on electoral reform that ended the burgeoning prospect of proportional representation, and his disregard for Indigenous rights.

Will Singh's NDP have the imagination and courage needed to win their vote?

Timid and centrist didn't work for the NDP in 2015. Let's hope that they don't repeat that mistake and see a further collapse of their vote in 2019.

quizzical

don't  care. carbon pricing is bs. the powers think we are all stupid but we don't like being taken for fools and selling carbon pricing and taxes to us just makes us angry. 

the planet needs more than stupid carbon pricing to green wash peoples conscious.

 i will not be voting NDP federally next year and maybe not provincially. depends on whether they get rid of their party vice president or not.

 

Sean in Ottawa

cco wrote:
Quote:

The whole point in carbon taxes is that they assume fossil fuels will go on being used. Otherwise why tax? Worse, they build in a perverse incentive for governments to keep fossil fuels in place to keep taxes flowing.

This is the problem with a revenue-neutral carbon tax, for sure. You can tax to raise revenue, or you can tax to discourage behaviour. Occasionally, like with tobacco taxes being tied to health-care spending, you can do both at the same time, but a carbon tax coupled with rebates or income tax cuts incentivizes people to keep their emissions high and governments to keep their emissions-based revenue high.

No you misunderstand what revenue neutral means: it is neutral for the government not for the taxpayer. Those who use less carbon pay less and those who use more pay more. The total together is the same.

In practice the neutrality can be continued over tme even as people use less: as the population uses less then the rate increases to encourage more of the same. As a result the government collects this money and returns it in a total balance while people are encouraged to use less.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I heat with electricity so I don't pay a carbon tax. If I heated with fracked gas I would pay a carbon tax. How will that offset my government putting my tax dollars into infrastructure to process and ship LFG?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..another piece on the carbon tax.

The leftist’s case against the carbon tax

quote:

But after the dust settled, the premise seemed to remain intact: Canadian climate policy is now being fought almost exclusively over carbon pricing, and a politician’s support for the policy is a barometer of their “belief” in climate change. Four provinces – Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick – have already refused or dropped out of the carbon pricing scheme. At this point, it seems the tax may end up being the main talking point of both the upcoming Alberta and federal elections.

And that’s a huge concern from a climate change perspective, especially an explicitly leftist one.

Carbon pricing at current levels will not even bring us close to reducing our emissions enough to avoid catastrophic climate change. But even more than that, it’s also a deeply neoliberal and individualistic way of doing it – one that often excludes or minimizes impacts on fossil fuel corporations while downloading moral and financial responsibility on households who burn fossil fuels for transportation or heating. Perhaps most concerning of all is the way it serves to create resentment for – and siphon energy from – far more ambitious climate policy that would rapidly cut emissions, guarantee jobs, and improve public services for all.

“The Maclean’s cover highlights a continuing problem for everyone who studies climate policy,” says Russell Williams, associate professor of political science at Memorial University and expert on international climate governance, in an interview with Briarpatch. “We really are being forced into a two-sided dialogue where one side clearly doesn’t want to do anything about climate change and the other is offering us a complex array of policies that probably won’t be very effective in managing Canada’s emission problems, either. You’re forced to pick what’s behind door number two because door number one is so awful.”

“It really derails the more meaningful parts of the climate policy conversation”

Carbon pricing was never destined to become Canada’s main climate policy.

Back in 2003, shortly after the Liberal government ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the province of Ontario committed to phasing out its use of coal-fired power plants to generate electricity. They didn’t bother with “market-based solutions,” but just regulated coal out of existence. Electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions plummeted by an incredible 87 per cent between 2005 and 2015. It demonstrated that strong state intervention can make things happen, fast.

A similarly ambitious vision was articulated by the Trudeau government with the signing of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change in December 2016 by every province and territory but Saskatchewan and Manitoba. But over the last two years, those regulatory tools have eroded or disappeared into the netherworld of stakeholder consultations.

Its zero-emissions vehicle mandate (which requires automobile manufacturers to produce a certain percentage of electric vehicles per year) is MIA. The Clean Fuel Standard (which would regulate the amount of carbon allowed in fuels) has been delayed until well after the next election.

Its critical methane regulations, which would see dangerous emissions from the oil and gas sector slashed by over 40 per cent by 2030, were pushed back by three years following industry pressure. The federal coal phaseout is rife with loopholes, with Nova Scotia allowed to combust the highly polluting fossil fuel until after 2030. Renewable energy has been largely left to the provinces, along with public transportation.

That leaves carbon pricing. Crucially, the policy doesn’t actually regulate emissions; it only assigns a price to them based on a largely arbitrary calculation dubbed the “social cost of carbon,” which tends to ignore cumulative emissions, feedback loops, and the greatly disproportionate impacts of climate change on countries in the Global South. For many corporations, it becomes just another cost of doing business and doesn’t incent radical shifts. Many jurisdictions end up returning revenue from the carbon tax to industry via grants, subsidies, and tax breaks, further dulling the effect. The example of the B.C. carbon price, first introduced in 2008, is often pointed to by boosters to prove the effectiveness of the policy. But critics such as Marc Lee of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have observed that emissions were on a downward trajectory well before the carbon tax and the additional price paled in comparison to the existing gas tax, with two-thirds of the revenue supporting corporate income tax cuts.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..more from the above

quote:

Make the rich pay

We know that states have enormous power to implement climate policies that would radically reduce emissions, create jobs, and improve public services. And none of them include putting a price on carbon as a primary measure.

Here are just a few of the options: phase out oil, gas, and coal extraction; stop subsidizing fossil fuels; build low-carbon energy; initiate massive public works projects like a green housing program, construct energy-efficient social housing for low-income residents, and retrofit existing buildings with electric heat pumps, efficient appliances, and added insulation; fund public transportation, including urban, rural, and intercity options; construct a network of nationwide electrified passenger and freight trains; employ people to clean up abandoned wells, tailings lakes, and mining waste to prepare the land for return to Indigenous peoples; work with farmers to reduce agricultural emissions.

Such policies would cost a significant amount of money. Huber pointed to recent policy offerings in the United States as prime examples of how leftists could frame these moves, including Cynthia Nixon’s “polluter’s fee” that specifically targeted fossil fuel companies and Bernie Sanders’ “Wall Street Tax,” which advocated for financial speculation to be taxed to directly fund free college and pay down student debt for everyone. In both instances, the burden was placed on extremely wealthy individuals and corporations to pay the costs of big spending, not struggling households which resent the idea of increased taxes, however small.

The two richest Canadian families own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 30 per cent of the country. Some $300 billion of Canadian wealth is being stored in offshore tax havens. Under pressure from the U.S., Canada is increasing its military spending to almost $25 billion per year. There’s plenty of money being hoarded and wasted on brutal imperialist projects that can pay for this transition.

Conservatives opposing carbon pricing are almost certainly doing so due to climate denialism, influence by the fossil fuel industry, or both. That doesn’t mean some of their basic critiques of carbon pricing are incorrect. The policy is indeed next to useless on the emissions reductions front, allowing huge industrial polluters to pay very little compared to costs imposed on regular households. It’s a fundamentally gradualist policy that assumes a certain amount of climate change is acceptable under a perverse “social cost of carbon” calculation, while ignoring the fact that poor Global South countries and low-income communities of colour in the Global North will be hardest hit by the consequences. And it tends to just piss people off, not invigorate them about the possibility of a just and sustainable future.

The challenge for leftists going forward will be articulating a strong vision that acknowledges the terrifyingly real existence of climate change while prioritizing policies that genuinely seek economic redistribution, good jobs, and decolonization. That will first require us to reject the deification of carbon pricing. A far better world is possible – but we’ll have to mount our own progressive resistance to get there.

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