Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Nothing Has Changed

All three candidates for the leadership of Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party have declared their opposition to a carbon tax. Andrew Coyne writes:

When the Great Platform Revolt began, I had thought that their position would be just to default to the status quo, i.e. cap and trade, since a) this would not require them to do anything, b) the feds have said they would accept this in lieu of an explicit carbon tax, and c) the revenues the province collects from cap and trade, unlike a carbon tax, are invisible to the consumer. They could then claim to have averted the dread prospect of a carbon tax, while continuing to impose one via cap and trade.

But that's not what they're promising:

No, all pledge to repeal cap-and-trade, thereby guaranteeing the imposition of a federal carbon tax in its place: one that, as the platform boasts, would reduce the province’s carbon dioxide emissions by 10 megatonnes more over four years than what cap and trade would achieve. The sum effect of the candidates’ position, then, is to ensure precisely the thing to which they claim to be opposed.

The candidates know the base of their party. And, these days, it appears that the base of all conservative parties is petrified of the future. Rather than look forward, they prefer to look backward. The end result is that they always develop stupid policy:

As ever, the failure to embrace carbon pricing remains a missed opportunity for Conservatives: not only to prove their bona fides on the environment, but to replace all those existing schemes — and to make deep cuts in taxes in the bargain: to use carbon pricing, not just as a shield, but as a sword.

John Stuart Mill wrote: "Not all conservatives are stupid. But most stupid people are conservative." Nothing has changed since Mill reached that conclusion over one hundred years ago.


Hugh said...

BC has had a carbon tax since 2008. It doesn't do anything to curb GHG emissions. It needs to be a lot higher to be effective.

Instead of $5 carbon tax per gas tank fill-up, as it is now, how about $25 per fill-up?

People would squawk, the price of everything would go up. It would hurt the economy. People would flock to the US to buy cheaper gas.

Toby said...

However it is done, carbon pricing only works when it hurts. It has to hurt all involved including carbon producers. It has to hurt enough that people have incentive to make real, permanent changes that reduce their use of carbon.

So far, all we are seeing from our various leaders is smoke and mirrors.

Owen Gray said...

There's always a problem setting economic incentives, Hugh. It's hard to get them to be like Goldilock's bed -- just right.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Toby. It's hard to get economic incentives right.

The Mound of Sound said...

Owen, I did a post today about Trudeau's interview with the National Observer. He admitted that the Kinder-Morgan pipeline expansion was a "trade-off" for Alberta's promise to support his carbon pricing scheme. He chose to sacrifice British Columbia for Notley's promise, one she might not even be around to renege on after the next Alberta elections. Here we see Ontario Tories already threatening to scuttle Trudeau's grandiose scheme that the gutless Dauphin lacks the will to impose.

Selling out British Columbia was easy for Trudeau but Trudeau and McKenna are too weak to force the carbon cuts through. That much was plain when, early in 2016 and fresh from the Paris Climate Summit, McKenna met with her Alberta and B.C.(Liberal) counterparts and immediately capitulated, muttering "national unity, national unity" to excuse her retreat to a "go slow" position on carbon cuts. At the very first sign of pushback she folded.

Now Rachel has Justin's balls and he knows she's not giving them back until she gets her damned pipeline to Vancouver's inner harbour. And he's on his tippy-toes trying to keep Rachel happy.

Owen Gray said...

It sounds like people in B.C. are livid, Mound. I suspect they know that the default position on the issue is the one Doug Ford espouses.

Lorne said...

What strikes me most about the PC leadership aspirants, Owen, is their abject absence of anything remotely resembling principle or a sense of the public good. Their capacity for political expedience amply demonstrates how devoid of purpose and character they truly are.

Owen Gray said...

I came to the conclusion a long time ago that the Republican Party was intellectually and morally bankrupt, Lorne. I'm beginning to think that all parties have been infected by the same virus.

Toby said...

One would think that the easiest change that the various governments could do is to stop subsidizing (directly and indirectly) the carbon companies. There's almost no downside to stopping subsidies. Affected companies and the Fraser Institute would whine and wail but most of the public would love it.

Owen Gray said...

That's a solution which is hiding in plain sight, Tboy.