Carbon tax: Is it worth the trouble?

This week's editorial questions whether there are benefits with a carbon tax.

Last week, UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced that the world is living through its hottest year on record. It said June 2016 was the 14th straight month of highest temperatures ever recorded with the melting of the Arctic ice speeding up in unprecedented fashion.

This only confirms what is a concluded debate among scientists: Man made global warming is threatening the future of the planet and time is running out to stop the world from coming to a point of no return whereby climate disasters will bring about massive loss of life, incalculable economic damage and eventually the potential for major wars, regional or global, for the control of natural resources.

While big oil and politicians allied with them continue to dispute what science has conclusively decided, men of wisdom, even from the finance sector, which is naturally a good bed fellow with big oil, are admitting that climate change is a factor that seriously needs to be taken into account in looking at the future of global economy.

One example is Mark Carney. Former governor of Bank of Canada, whom the British government didn’t hesitate at all to recruit as the governor of Bank of England and give the control of the Sterling as well as its citizenship, has been speaking about the potential financial and economic risks from the uncontrollable process of climate change since last year and he did so again even a few days ago during a visit to Toronto.

But apparently some messages are failing to reach the addresses they should.

Just below this column, there is an opinion piece authored by the Alberta director of Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, an article that apparently takes pride in bashing the Rachel Notley government for the carbon tax her government will start to collect next year.

Lately, another group called “Friends of Science Society” has begun to campaign against not only the carbon tax but also plans to phase out coal-based energy production by claiming that any greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions from the two programs would be only “insignificant and undetectable.” And this group also alleges that warming of earth’s climate is caused by the sun, but not the CO2 emissions from our industrial plants, cars and planes.

Alberta’s conservative politicians keep singing the same tune when it comes to the issue of carbon tax, but what about the federal government’s commitments made at international fora, including last December’s UN Summit on Climate in Paris?

Under the promises made there, Canada will soon have to tax carbon emissions in every province and territory. There is talk of federal government imposing a mandatory price for carbon emissions if an agreement on the matter cannot be reached through negotiations among the provinces, territories and the feds.

Thankfully, awareness on the dangers of the global warming and climate change is reaching new heights throughout the world, but the question is whether it is fast enough and if we are able to catch the increasingly fast runaway train of record breaking temperatures.

And in this environment of ongoing political debates, perhaps carbon tax does need to be criticized, but not from the same angle as adopted by the business world and conservative political camp.

Carbon tax is way too slow and ineffective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions threatening the future of the earth. It is a kind of solution developed for politicians to be able to keep saying that they are addressing the problem within the framework of free market, and that the principles of the free market will bring about the “balance” by making the use of emission producing practices more expensive and deter the use of it.

But that kind of free market has been dead for a long time already. The new market works in different ways, with lots of distortion and it creates most of our current problems. It doesn’t take rocket science to see that solutions based on old thinking will not be enough to bring new problems to an end.

 

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