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Carbon Tax poll reveals what we already knew

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7 minute read

Dan McTeague  Written By Dan McTeague of Canadians for Affordable Energy

The chickens are coming home to roost for the Trudeau government.

Last month (August 6th) Nanos Research released a new poll showing that two thirds of Canadians think that now is a bad time to increase the Carbon Tax. This is not exactly a shocking revelation. It really didn’t take a poll to determine what everyday Canadians already know. Adding a Carbon Tax to a struggling economy is a bad idea.

Anyone who has gone to the grocery store lately, or has filled up their vehicle, knows that the cost of living has skyrocketed. Social media is flooded with Canadians sharing their stories of how they are at the breaking point with the cost of living. It doesn’t take an economist to know that higher consumption taxes have the immediate effect of increasing the cost of everything.  That has not stopped the green Agenda driven Trudeau government that seems determined to make life unaffordable for Canadians.

But back to that Nanos poll –

Let’s break this down a bit more to understand what this poll is really saying about how Canadians feel about Carbon Taxes.

First, it is evident that Nanos is approaching this poll with a clear bias in favor of Carbon Taxes. Participants were asked three (3) questions: 1) Do you think a carbon tax on things like gas is an effective, somewhat effective, somewhat ineffective, or ineffective way to encourage people to use less fuel? 2) Is now a very good, good, average, poor or very poor time to increase carbon taxes on things like gas? 3) On a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 is not at all effective and 10 is extremely effective, how effective do you think the federal government’s Carbon Pollution Pricing system, often called the carbon tax, is to combat climate change?

Notice the poll did not ask Canadians whether or not they think Carbon Taxes are a good idea or whether they want them at all.

The assumption is that Canadians buy into the narrative that climate change is real, and a “real problem” that requires government action, that “using less carbon” such as fuel is a key, if not the key, to reducing “carbon consumption”.

We know not every Canadian believes this; but the Nanos poll didn’t even ask.

That said, looking at the results of what they did ask, two thirds of Canadians say that now is a bad time to increase carbon taxes.

In the prairie provinces, this number was 79% and in Atlantic Canada 73% of respondents said the timing is “poor” or “very poor”.

Of even greater political significance: in Ontario, where the next federal election will likely be decided, a whopping 68.7% of respondents said that now is a bad time to increase the Carbon Tax. And yet Justin Trudeau keeps increasing this most hated tax.

In terms of effectiveness, 64.3% in Ontario think that a new carbon tax is not effective at encouraging people to use less fuel. This comes as no surprise. A majority of Canadians rely on their vehicles to get to work, the grocery store, kids practices, and family vacations. Normal daily activities for life in Canada. In most cases not driving is not an option. It only means that getting there is more expensive, and other items in the budget need to be sacrificed instead.

And as we know the Carbon Tax is one of the culprits for higher prices.

Conservative MP Kyle Seeback articulated it well in the House of Commons when he explained to Trudeau’s Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault how the Carbon Tax is driving up inflation. “Mr. Speaker, it is incredible, he actually does not know how food ends up on his plate. The farmer pays a carbon tax, the truck that picks up the farmer’s food pays a carbon tax to take it to the processor, the processor pays a carbon tax, the truck that picks it up from the processor to take it to the grocery store pays a carbon tax, the grocery store pays a carbon tax and then Canadians cannot pay for food.”

Canadians for Affordable Energy has been advocating for affordability since 2017 and have known that Carbon Taxes are a threat to affordable energy in Canada and will drive up the cost of everything. And that is exactly what is happening. Fuel prices are skyrocketing, food prices are at record highs, and Canadians are struggling to make ends meet. Energy affordability is the key to success in Canada and therefore it is the view of CAE that there is never a good time to implement a Carbon Tax. Full stop.

Canadians are finally starting to connect the dots on a path that leads directly back to bad energy and environmental policies. Policies that have stifled our resource economy and punished working Canadians. Policies that are hitting Canadians’ pocketbooks really hard, especially when trying to fill up their vehicles and feed their families. Policies that won’t even help the environment.

Pierre Poilievre and his Conservative government have committed to scrapping the carbon tax. Let’s hope they follow through on this promise if they come into power in the next election. Because not all Canadians buy the narrative that Carbon Taxes are a good thing.

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Economy

Carbon tax costs Canadian economy billions

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Franco Terrazzano 

This tax costs Canadians big time at the gas pump, on home heating bills, on the farm and at the dinner table.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the federal government to scrap the carbon tax in light of newly released government data showing the tax will cost the Canadian economy about $25 billion in 2030.

“Once again, we see the government’s own data showing what hardworking Canadians already know: the carbon tax costs Canada big time,” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. “The carbon tax makes the necessities of life more expensive and it will cost our economy billions of dollars.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must scrap his carbon tax now.”

The government of Canada released modelling showing the cost of the carbon tax on the Canadian economy Thursday.

“The country’s GDP is expected to be about $25 billion lower in 2030 due to carbon pricing than it would be otherwise,”  reports the Globe and Mail.

Canada contributes about 1.5 per cent of global emissions.

Government data shows emissions are going up in Canada. In 2022, the latest year of data, emissions in Canada were 708 megatonnes of CO2, an increase of 9.3 megatonnes from 2021.

The federal carbon tax currently costs 17 cents per litre of gasoline, 21 cents per litre of diesel and 15 cents per cubic metre of natural gas.

The carbon tax adds about $13 to the cost of filling up a minivan, about $20 to the cost of filling up a pickup truck and about $200 to the cost of filling up a big rig truck with diesel.

Farmers are charged the carbon tax for heating their barns and drying grains with natural gas and propane. The carbon tax will cost Canadian farmers $1 billion by 2030, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

“No matter how many times this government tries to put lipstick on the carbon tax pig, the reality is clear,” said Kris Sims, CTF Alberta Director. “This tax costs Canadians big time at the gas pump, on home heating bills, on the farm and at the dinner table. Trudeau should make life more affordable and improve the Canadian economy by scrapping his carbon tax.”

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New York and Vermont Seek to Impose a Retroactive Climate Tax

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From Heartland Daily News

By Joshua Loucks for the Cato Institute.

Energy producers will be subject to retroactive taxes in New York if the state assembly passes Senate Bill S2129A, known as the “Climate Change Superfund Act.” The superfund legislation seeks to impose a retroactive tax on energy companies that have emitted greenhouse gases (GHGs) and operated within the state over the last seventy years.

If passed, the new law will impose $75 billion in repayment fees for “historical polluters,” who lawmakers assert are primarily responsible for climate change damages within the state. The state will “assign liability to and require compensation from companies commensurate with their emissions” over the last “70 years or more.” The bill would establish a standard of strict liability, stating that “companies are required to pay into the fund because the use of their products caused the pollution. No finding of wrongdoing is required.”

New York is not alone in this effort. Superfunds built on retroactive taxes on GHG emissions are becoming increasingly popular. Vermont recently enacted similar legislation, S.259 (Act 122), titled the “Climate Superfund Act,” in which the state also retroactively taxes energy producers for historic emissions. Similar bills have also been introduced in Maryland and Massachusetts.

Climate superfund legislation seems to have one purpose: to raise revenue by taxing a politically unpopular industry. Under the New York law, fossil fuel‐​producing energy companies would be taxed billions of dollars retroactively for engaging in legal and necessary behavior. For example, the seventy‐​year retroactive tax would conceivably apply to any company—going back to 1954—that used fossil fuels to generate electricity or produced fuel for New York drivers.

The typical “economic efficiency” arguments for taxing an externality go out the window with the New York and Vermont approach, for at least two reasons. First, the goal of a blackboard or textbook approach to a carbon tax is to internalize the GHG externality. To apply such a tax accurately, the government would need to calculate the social cost of carbon (SCC).

Unfortunately, estimating the SCC is methodologically complex and open to wide ranges of estimates. As a result, the SCC is theoretically very useful but practically impossible to calculate with any reasonable degree of precision.

Second, the retroactive nature of these climate superfunds undermines the very incentives a textbook tax on externalities  would promote. A carbon tax’s central feature is that it is intended to reduce externalities from current and future activity by changing incentives. However, by imposing retroactive taxes, the New York and Vermont legislation will not impact emitters’ future behavior in a way that mimics a textbook carbon tax or improves economic outcomes.

Arbitrary and retroactive taxes can, however, raise prices for consumers by increasing policy uncertainty, affecting firm profitability, and reducing investment (or causing investors to flee GHG‐​emitting industries in the state altogether). Residents in both New York and Vermont already pay over 30 percent more than the US average in residential electricity prices, and this legislation will not lower these costs to consumers.

Climate superfunds are not a serious attempt to solve environmental challenges but rather a way to raise government revenue while unfairly punishing an entire industry (one whose actions the New York legislation claims “have been unconscionable, closely reflecting the strategy of denial, deflection, and delay used by the tobacco industry”).

Fossil fuel companies enabled GHG emissions, of course, but they also empowered significant growth, mobility, and prosperity. The punitive nature of the policy is laid bare by the fact that neither New York nor Vermont used a generic SCC or an evidentiary proceeding to calculate precise damages.

Finally, establishing a standard in which “no finding of wrongdoing is required” to levy fines against historical actions that were (and still are) legally permitted sets a dangerous precedent for what governments can do, not only to businesses that have produced fossil fuels but also to individuals who have consumed them.

Cato research associate Joshua Loucks contributed to this post.

Originally published by the Cato Institute. Republished with permission under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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