Today's discussion:

The carbon tax was never worth the cost

Canada should pause increases in the carbon tax permanently and have a serious discussion about eliminating the hodgepodge of rules and regulations that are harming the efficiency and competitiveness of the economy.

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George R Hinchliffe

The whole premise of the Carbon Tax is stupid. The fact of the matter is the Earth has had Warming and Cooling periods since the beginning of time. It is sheer folly to think we can do anything to stop it and to ruin our Economy by spending countless amounts of Money on So called Green Energy while we have an abundance of oil and gas is just plain dumb. What makes it even worse is the rest of the world is laughing at us. If we were entering another Ice age would our Government demand we burn more Oil and gas to try and stop it?

26th March 2024 at 8:12 am
Paul Attics

//The whole premise of the Carbon Tax is stupid.//

Did you read the article? Carbon pricing, or pricing of any otherwise cost-free externality, can be effective in reducing it. Perhaps it is not effective for Canada in 2024? Perhaps it is not effective at $80/tonne?

//The fact of the matter is the Earth has had Warming and Cooling periods since the beginning of time.//

I am always surprised that someone cannot seemingly understand that it is the RATE of change in global temperature that is the issue, not the fact that it does change over relatively long periods of time.

//It is sheer folly to think we can do anything to stop it…//

Considering the global risks, some of which have been realized, it is sheer folly for the world to not address the problem.

There are reasonable arguments for Canada to reconsider its carbon pricing strategy in the context of global carbon emissions and the actions of other countries. Wild hyperbole, absolutist assertions, and willful and/or ignorant misrepresentations are great for garnering applause of the tribe but not much else.

26th March 2024 at 9:03 am
Michael B

I heard the environment and climate minister justify the carbon tax by blaming our emissions for our severe weather events and the massive forest fires of last year. These would obviously include the reduction of our arctic sea ice. He doesn’t seem to understand that the jet streams move from west to east and that GHG emissions being spread by them are globally generated. As Asia is responsible for the majority of those emissions, with China & India combined producing some 37% of the global total, the minister is either prevaricating or doesn’t understand his portfolio.
The minister also stated in the same speech that he could not talk to other countries about their emissions unless Canada made significant reductions and led the way. It seems to me that neither China nor India are at all interested in what a Canadian minister or gov’t has to say about how they run their countries and provide for their peoples. If a Canadian gov’t wanted their attention they’d slap carbon taxes on their imports to this country, but that’s not going to happen. The question being, why not?

26th March 2024 at 10:31 am
Harry B

Excellent point if we slapped a duty on Chinese imports to equal their carbon output the prices would increase by 50% is my guess. Thus so much for Chinese imports. Then we have to make those products in Canada and the price of those would be that same 50% higher but the labour and tax benefit would reduce the carbon out put in China. I thought the whole idea was to reduce GLOBAL temperature! Those have been changing since time of creation.

26th March 2024 at 10:15 pm

Yet the podcast with Christopher Ragan seemed to imply that anyone who wants to get rid of the carbon tax is a provincial buffoon or malicious planet burner.

26th March 2024 at 7:42 am
Harry B

He was the Buffon who wanted his mother to turn down the heat in her house to reduce her carbon foot print. Hate to see who he would send to my house to force my temperature setting down!

26th March 2024 at 10:20 pm

However the economic costs work out on paper, it’s hard to imagine that people in the future (and maybe even today’s young people) are going to be happy to be left 3.5 degree warming in exchange for growth and current consumption. (This is even leaving aside the fact that the global differences in impacts are likely to be a huge source of instability.)

26th March 2024 at 9:07 am

Especially when they can’t afford a home to take shelter in.

26th March 2024 at 6:28 pm

So, many societies live without the expectation of owning a home… it seems that Canadian media believe that because someone dreams it, it becomes a right of passage. there is no entitlement of anything. If you want to own a house, then be prepared to sacrifice in all other areas of your life and commit to long term plan.

26th March 2024 at 6:57 pm

The increase in the cost of homes has been caused largely by restricting the supply of land, not a failure to sacrifice. There’s certainly some reasonable expectation to not have housing made artificially scarce.

26th March 2024 at 9:12 pm
A. Chezzi

Economist have said over and over that the carbon tax is an efficient and affordable method of fighting climate change. Con refuse to listen caught up by their ideology and the make believe world they like to live in. I cannot see how a Con government with the like of Leslyn Lewis in cabinet will benefit Canadians. I do not see how a Con government led by Poilievre, who is as closed minded, authoritarian, and arrogant as he claims Trudeau is, will benefit Canadians.
I am dismayed that the HUB has not published the opposite point of view so that readers can have all the facts not just the talking points of the Con party.

26th March 2024 at 9:09 am

It doesn’t matter what the HUB publishes because in your view the fault always lies with the Con.

26th March 2024 at 11:51 am
Michael F

The Hub takes oil money from an Alberta family foundation. You think that colours their editorial policies?

26th March 2024 at 1:14 pm
Scott B

Per capita, Canada is the one of the largest producers of CO2 in the world. Science, data, economists have shown carbon tax is effective, dare they say, the most effective method of curtailing greenhouse gases. Plus, most households currently enjoy net positive cash as a result of the offsetting rebate. I’m ahead by $125/yr. Wrt food costs, freight is almost always less, often much less, than 5% of on-the-shelf price. So then it’s about a percentage of a small percentage. Blame the govt for a poor sales job, but that’s really all.

26th March 2024 at 7:53 am

But does it even begin to help when China continues to build coal-fired furnaces?

26th March 2024 at 8:42 am
Kim Morton

Of course not. But our current government cares more about China than Canada.

26th March 2024 at 9:22 am

You got that right, sad, isn’t it?

26th March 2024 at 11:58 am

Why would we stand there and point a finger when we as individuals greedily pollute more than any other individual on the planet? ?We need to grow up and assume responsibility for our actions.

26th March 2024 at 6:59 pm

Is that supposed to mean anything to anyone.

26th March 2024 at 7:00 pm

Per-capita comparisons matter for perspective, but obscure that rich countries with declining populations are genuinely reducing emissions. A per capita view would falsely say they’ve done nothing. It also ignores that you’re going to have a hard time convincing people that their fair share decreases because of population growth that they have nothing to do with.

Even nationally, it’s a hard sell to expect any significant sacrifice from people while population growth effectively cancels it out. The carbon reductions required by the Paris Agreement 2030 target, for example, are not per capita.

26th March 2024 at 8:52 am
David Graham

Reread the article. If you think the current approach is working or it will work better if it was more, then you are just fooling yourself. Definitely need a different approach. Running our economy into the ground just to feel better because we are doing something, despite the rest of the world not doing much, is not the answer. Don’t be fooled by the carbon rebate, it is just your money with some of it coming back to you. The Liberals are very good at taking your money then paying you off with it to make you feel better.

26th March 2024 at 12:20 pm
Michael B

Are the hundreds of millions of daily cooking fires across Africa and other underdeveloped countries accounted for in global emissions ? The answer is no.
Canada’s population is attributed with per capita emissions of some 19.8 tons of CO2e per year. China’s self-reporting, per capita emissions are only 11 tons per year. However, only a portion of their 1.4 billion population are benefiting from and responsible for the vast majority of those emissions. If that inequality is factored in you’ll have a better picture of who are the worse culprits. The same applies to India.

26th March 2024 at 10:49 am
Michael F

Studies have shown it’s the wealthy who create the disproportionate amount of emissions in developed countries. Those with the private jets and mega-yachts down to those with the weekend toys powered by fossil fuels. And that kind of wealth primarily exists in Europe and North America.

26th March 2024 at 1:12 pm
Colin Wright

China’s per capita emissions are rising quite rapidly but, more importantly, it’s total emissions far outstrip those of any other nation. That’s the metric that matters. Good luck convincing China that it should halt its economic development to limit emissions.

26th March 2024 at 1:29 pm
Michael F

For most of the 20th century the US was the world’s biggest polluter. China is also building lots of renewable power generation and electric vehicles.

26th March 2024 at 2:18 pm
Jason W

While the carbon tax could work, the Liberal Party has corrupted the policy making it useless. The Tax moving from $20 to $170 in 12 years is too accelerated, particularly when the asset age is +12 years before replacement. Think furnace, HWH, vehicle, trucking, house windows, etc.
Typically any infrastructure in Canada takes more than 10 years to build due to hostile governments, regulations, and risks, yet Canadians will be revenue-neutral in 12 years.
To sell the tax as “Getting more back than you pay” is pure idelogic nonsense. If you get more back than you pay, why do anything? Oh, that’s right, they would not win the election if the truth were in the platform.
There are limited suitable replacements. ASHP in AB or SK are unsuitable due to the lack of reliable electricity. Windpower shuts in at -30C, and the prairies get cold. Old housing in Canada requires major upgrades before “electricity for space heating” should be installed.
Heavy Industry use is not near EV.
Thankfully the Liberals waived the Carbon Tax on Home Heating Oil only, a fuel with 40% more CO2 than natural gas, highlighting politics, not the environment, are the key driver. The Carbon Tax died that day.
But remember, it took this government over a year to issue a passport and paid $260 million for ArriveCan, so they do not live in the reality of most Canadians.

26th March 2024 at 12:03 pm

I generally agree with the article. I would comment on the point late in the article about possibly “implementing border adjustments that tax the imports” from countries with lower carbon taxes. The author fails to note, that if we do that, those countries will most likely increase duties on imports from Canada, and it will hurt Canadian manufacturers while doing little if anything to “help the environment”.

26th March 2024 at 11:40 am
Paul Attics

Just noticed this timely Open Letter on Carbon Pricing written and endorsed by Canadian economists, posted by Andrew Coyne on Twitter.

26th March 2024 at 9:29 am
Michael F

Thanks for posting this Paul. It reinforces what I have already read on the subject and puts it in clear and concise language. Sadly the feds haven’t done a a very good job in communicating this information. And now if they were to use public monies to do an ad campaign to explain all this, it would be be a PR liability given the present conservative leaders penchant for hyperbole.

26th March 2024 at 11:47 am

The essential idea behind the carbon tax was that prices can influence behavior. Obviously this can work if the price accurately includes all emissions and if there is a cheaper alternative.

If we look at home heating for most Canadians, electricity is much more expensive than natural gas. The carbon tax is not influencing buying behavior for richer Canadians who can afford it, while poorer people get colder because they have to dial back the heat.

Looking at EVs, which are heavily subsidized, the carbon footprint for their batteries and metals are not included in their prices. Similar to solar panels, all part of magical conception. Again, the rich are ok, the poor not so much.

If our governments focused on making truly low carbon products cheaper rather than making existing products more expensive, maybe Canadians would be a bit happier.

26th March 2024 at 4:11 pm
Kim Morton

We in BC, have had our own carbon scam tax for some time. Although useless for its intended purpose, it at least was revenue neutral, being offset by reductions in other taxes. Now it is just a cash grab to fuel out of control spending.
Which brings us to the other foolish part of the scam. Rebates: Rebates are currently based in income, not amount spent on carbon scam taxes. This simply makes it a wealth redistribution scheme, unless one subscribes to the nutty idea that low income people’s use of carbon does not pollute, but middle class and up do.
The third part is the total lack of science involved. Plants need C02. Taxes will not change that simple fact.
Last, and probably most important, is just who is the money behind the push to ban fossil fuels? When it comes to power generation, it is the nuclear power plant industry. Hardly a safe or unbiased source.

26th March 2024 at 9:20 am
Paul Attics

/The third part is the total lack of science involved. Plants need C02. Taxes will not change that simple fact.//

Other than the “total lack of science”, is your assertion that ‘plants need CO2, therefore carbon pricing that results in lower CO2 in the atmosphere will be unduly harmful to plants’?

If not, what are you asserting, from both a science and economics perspective?

26th March 2024 at 10:00 am

As pointed out the richer the polluter the greater the planetary exploitation.

26th March 2024 at 7:03 pm
Colin Wright

Here’s a question never answered: what makes the carbon tax so magical in the eyes of its supporters? In Ontario, on gasoline, we have federal excise tax, provincial fuel tax, the carbon tax, and HST. Apparently, none of those other taxes have an impact on consumer behaviour like that of the carbon tax. In addition, the commodity is subject to a fair degree of volatility. Prices can jump up or down significantly in a day and consumers still buy what they need. Good old price inelasticity at work. But, according to the faithful, that carbon tax has potential to shift things in a way only someone like Albus Dumbledore can comprehend.

The article lays it out pretty clearly. The tax, indeed the whole suite of policies, has been designed and implemented very poorly and, in the absence of a global carbon price, Canada is only inflicting economic harm on itself. History show us that rich nations can afford strict environmental regulation and enjoy cleaner environments. We are slipping economically and are fast losing our rich nation status. Let’s make wealth creation our priority and saving the planet a secondary, or even tertiary, objective.

26th March 2024 at 1:18 pm

This article just recycles the same half baked information that has been circulating in con circles for years.

26th March 2024 at 7:06 pm
Michael F

Conservatives and especially pro oil patch people in Canada love to paint a picture of Canada being this crazed environmental outlier for having a price on carbon emissions. The truth is Canada is one of many nations that have put a price on pollution. Over 20 countries in Europe have a carbon levy. As does Japan, Australia and many other nations. Switzerland has a C$ equivalent of $175 a tonne carbon tax. Sweden’s rate per tonne is $170 and neither country has collapsed economically. They all have a similar structure to Canada with a rebate. A carbon tax is meant to discourage excessive use of fossil fuels. Sweden has cold winters just like Canada and they manage with a levy more than double ours without whining and hissy fits.

26th March 2024 at 10:49 am
Sandra G.

Not quite like Canada.
Daytime highs in Sweden’s municipal seats vary from 19 °C (66 °F) to 24 °C (75 °F) in July and −9 °C (16 °F) to 3 °C (37 °F) in January. The colder temperatures are influenced by the higher elevation in the northern interior. At sea level instead, the coldest average highs range from 21 °C (70 °F) to −6 °C (21 °F).
Climate of Sweden – Wikipedia

26th March 2024 at 1:23 pm

I would welcome analysis or information about what PP and CPC’s policy and plan is for GHGs. Hopefully not something simple-minded as CO2 is great plant food. Good overview of federal and provincial policies on carbon offsetting policies in place.

This remains my concern about the CPC and PP. The issue is attaining power not power to implement policy essentially leaving someone like me considering a vote for a change in federal government to assess him for GOP style negative personal attack ads plus family values and lower taxes. Give voters information.

Perhaps the tax is at the right place now in terms of economy like interest rates?

What about cross compliance for fedral programming eligibility writ large for suite of sectors. For example, farm adoption of organic certification equals automatic 100% BRM eligibility related to drought, floods, pests while usage of synthetic pesticides derived from GHG emitters only receive 75%. These ideas offset the externality cost burden on the public writ large as the farming community perils are underwritten by the public and paid for by others such as the camp ground losing water swimming access from farm polluters.

What about acknowledging that there will be opportunities from climate change. While warming terrain abd waters may impact current ecosystems they may also enable Canada to develop champaign in NS or NB or farm new crops around Sudbury. Incentives based on science to identify these opportunities 30 years from now could be part of Canada’s RD and socioeconomic policy analysis.

27th March 2024 at 5:54 am
Ian MacRae

Canadians are generally good international citizens. They agree climate change is problem.

However, for 20 years they’ve told pollsters they won’t pay more than $100, per year, per family, to reduce Canadian emissions. Perhaps they tacitly understand Canada’s emissions are 1.2% of the world’s total, so a hundred bucks seems fair.

They also know that Canada is a large cold country. And we haves lots of oil & gas. So it seems stupid to artificially make it more expensive to get around and stay comfy in the winter when we can use our own energy.

On this on, I suggest ordinary Canadians know best and choose to ignore the experts in Ottawa & elsewhere. So “Axe the tax” wins.

26th March 2024 at 7:11 pm

My understanding from podcast – If there is some sort of penalty for producing energy, The Carbon tax is the cheapest per capita to have in place, then it is up to the user to decide how and what type of energy they can or can not afford. Most people and businesses do not have a choice, therefore any larger businesses whether petroleum, cement, farming will be passed on to the consumer and not absorbed by the company. Canada produces 1.5% of world total, and yes we are pretty much at the top of the list for energy use / person. Since California has more population and substantial less politicians and government for more people. Maybe the solution is to destroy all the provinces and have everyone move to Quebec. Then our energy use per person / would be very low. But Canada is one large MF of a country. No matter if Canada was wiped from the map, China within a year or two would totally replace our miniscule amount of Carbon. Good news the planet is greener do to more plant food. Funny how that works. Didn’t think that increasing the earths vegetation would destroy the planet for humans. Earth will survive wonderfully with out people so no the earth will not be destroyed.

26th March 2024 at 6:36 pm