by Ian Angus
I know it’s not nice to say “I told you so,” but four years ago an editorial I wrote for for Canadian Dimension magazine about British Columbia’s then-new carbon tax said this:
“the B.C. carbon tax is regressive, shifting ever more of the province’s tax burden onto working people, while reducing taxes on corporations. It will do nothing to cut emissions or slow global warming.”
At that time, the carbon tax was being hailed as a huge step forward. Greenpeace, the Pembina Institute and other greenish NGOs teamed up to give the province’s premier an “Acts of Climate Leadership” award for imposing the tax.
How has it worked out in practice? Today Bill Tilleman gives us the bottom line in The Tyee:
British Columbia’s unique carbon tax on gasoline and other fuels went up another 1.1 cents a litre Sunday, but it remains an expensive, ineffective and unpopular failure.
While the BC Liberal government is attempting to make the proverbial silk purse from a sow’s ear, the reality is that North America’s only carbon tax is not reducing vehicle fuel consumption.
Nor is it helping improve the environment, since every cent of the $1.17 billion in tax revenue raised this year goes to corporate and personal tax cuts — not to fund a single environmentally-friendly program like public transit, energy efficiency or conservation.
Statistics Canada figures show what happened. In 2008 — the carbon tax’s first year — B.C. motor gasoline sales were 4,529.8 in thousands of cubic metres. In 2011 they totaled 4,536.8 thousand cubic metres.
Gas sales went up, not down, under the carbon tax, despite a tough economic recession that reduced consumption.
In the video below, from the recent Climate Change Summit in Sydney, Green Left Weekly editor Simon Butler discusses Australia’s carbon tax, which went into effect this week. Anyone familiar with the B.C. fiasco will experience a strong sense of déjà vu.