Black Shift


Crawl Across the Ocean asks, mischievously:

if increasing taxes on carbon and reducing taxes on income would destroy the economy, shouldn’t Harper be raising income taxes and slashing carbon taxes in order to create an economic boom?



Black Shift

  1. Declan prefaces that point with “Sadly, no reporters were on hand, to ask …”

    Any bets as to whether or not a journalist will actually ask that question?

  2. Could you cut a carbon tax that doesn’t exist?

  3. They’ve already promised to do so – remember the excise tax cut?

  4. (Sorry, going into rant mode here… and slightly off topic)

    Unlike what the media is reporting, Dion’s plan is actually the simplest of all the parties plans for reducing carbon. You place a tax on carbon, which drives up the price of carbon-based goods. Consumers respond to this disincentive and will naturally make choices to consume less of that product. To help offset the higher costs of living, you offer tax cuts.

    In contrast, to explain the NDP’s cap-and-trade system or the Conservative’s myriad of regulations so succinctly, one has to hand wave away lots of details: How will monitoring be done? How will it be enforced? What sort of bureaucracy will be required to manage it? How will they help Canadians cope with the increased cost of living their plans will produce (sorry Jack, there’s no such thing as “making big polluters pay”).

    Unfortunately, this speaks to Dion’s communication strategy (or lack thereof) that his plan is the one that is routinely labeled as the complicated one…

  5. Dion’s plan is indeed simple. AND he allows that the tax can be used along with cap and trade–but a tax effects behaviour sooner. Here is how an independent group compared the two approaches:

    This is from the Energy Bulletin (http://www.energybulletin.net/node/46527)


    -A Carbon Tax will provide greater efficiency and transparency than a Cap-and-Trade system. It will be easier to set up and easier manage because it

    utilizes the existing tax structure.

    -A Carbon Tax will offer greater predictability in prices which is beneficial to businesses and industries investing in low-carbon options such as energy

    conservation and efficiency measures and replacement of fossil fuel derived energy with renewables.

    -Like the Cap-and-Trade system, a Carbon Tax can be structured such that 100 percent of the money is returned directly to the people who are taxed.

    -A Carbon Tax discourages carbon emissions but cannot limit them to quantifiable annual levels.

    -A Carbon Tax is based almost exclusively around the nation-state level. It is not scalable (e.g. it cannot be easily adopted by a local municipality which

    then influences a state toward adoption) and it appears that it will be difficult to encourage universal adoption even if an influential country such as the United States were to implement it, due to the inherent differences of individual country’s taxation systems.

    -Despite claims that the wealthy will invariably pay a greater portion of the Carbon Tax, there is no real safety net to protect low-income and working class people from rising energy prices unless some portion of the money were to be allocated specifically for low-income assistance programs such as the

    HUD’s Weatherization Programs.

    -Many people (especially those in the U.S.) are adverse to anything resembling, associated with, or connected to a tax. The very name and identity of the approach could also be its largest obstacle for implementation.


    -Emissions can be directly controlled by placing a restriction on the amount of annual carbon emissions. If all emissions are accounted for, this allows us to use the best scientific research possible in order to establish what annual emissions should be.

    -Like a carbon tax, the Cap-and-Trade can be structured to redistribute the collected funds equally to the general public.

    -The Cap-and-Trade has been at least partly proven in concept through the successful cap-and-trade system utilized in the Clean Air Act of 1990.

    -A Cap-and-Trade system is more subject to political and corporate manipulation, could require a much larger administration to manage it.

    -Cap-and-Trade could take significantly longer to design, get legislative approval and to implement.

    -A Cap-and-Trade system may lead to price volatility on energy markets which would create difficulties for companies investing in renewable energy and other low-carbon solutions.

    Again, it is important to emphasize that the two systems are more similar than the contrasts suggest.

  6. No, Harper shouldn’t be raising taxes on carbon, nor implementing yet another large tax cut.

    In other words, he should be staying the course, at least if he’s being consistent.

    You’re suggesting a complete change in direction. Why would he want to be doing that?

  7. Oops! — A tax “affects” behaviour sooner.

  8. Dennis (Second Thots):

    So then what is the CPoC green plan about?

    Pretending to do something?

  9. “Could you cut a carbon tax that doesn’t exist?”

    You mean the following non-existing carbon taxes in the Excise Tax Act?

    * leaded gasoline (11 cents per litre)
    * leaded aviation gasoline (11 cents per litre)
    * unleaded gasoline (10 cents per litre)
    * unleaded aviation gasoline (10 cents per litre)
    * diesel fuel (4 cents per litre)
    * aviation fuel (4 cents per litre)

  10. The high price of oil (if it can be sustained) will do more to change behaviour than any type of central planning can.

  11. If nothing else, this question was very effective in flushing out everyone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

  12. f nothing else, this question was very effective in flushing out everyone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

    Who doesn’t know what they’re talking about?

    Don’t be so cryptic…

  13. I think Paul means Coyne. Since Stephen and Mike pretty quickly pointed out that Harper is indeed cutting a carbon tax. Which will cost revenue he could have spent on income tax cuts.

  14. Cute (or disingenuous depending on one’s perspective),

    but as you well know, Harper openly discounts the tax cut portion of Dion’s plan. Harper, and other prudent Canadians, are wise not to trust the “here I’ll take it from you, but I’ll promise to give it right back….honest” tactic.

    Further, even if one believes the tax cut, it doesn’t come close to offsetting the tax grab.

    More still, targeted price raises which affects certain segments of the economy would have the effect of damaging entire industries (and the intricate web of employers that flow therefrom) which some bureaucrat bean counter in Ottawa couldn’t correctly adjust for in a tax cut, if his pension-for-life butt depended on it.

    Add in the cost to administer and that also a further net loss.

    I could go on, but I know I bore Paul Wells,

    and I absolutely MUST keep Paul Wells entertained. I couldn’t sleep at night knowing Paul lost a valuable opportunity to be enlivened by reading my comment.

  15. “Add in the cost to administer and that also a further net loss.”

    I think Mike’s post from 8:24 shows why this is not the most flattering contrast between the Tory plan and Liberal plan.

  16. Style,

    there’s a reason why Dion favored cap ‘n trade over a carbon tax, just a short while ago,

    and much of it has to do with the fallacious assumptions included in that post.

    A word to those out there who like to site “experts”:

    have you ever seen a trial which involved “expert” opinion.

    Like in a court of law.

    It’s the adversarial system. Two sides, each have opposing “cases” and each will have an “expert”.

    Each “expert” will have been duly qualified,

    have a multitude of accomplishments, a very compelling resume, and,

    here’s the kicker,

    each will be saying the opposite of the other.

    One more point:

    if you want to know which way a news organization wants a story to go, just watch their “experts” (they usually site just one among a plethora.

    They could’ve chosen the other well qualified, well respected guy, with a kick butt resume,

    but he didn’t come to the ‘correct’ conclusions for the story.

    Carry on.

  17. Rising oil price aren’t a carbon tax because coal is excluded; increased coal consumption CO2 exactly cancels increased renewable energy non-CO2 says DOE. When USA capped and traded sulphur dioxide (I think), scrubbing technologies (analogous to CO2e-less tech) decreased in price much faster than predicted. The downside was decreases weren’t happening in the environment as quick as projected; scientists said lower caps were needed but politicans were in charge of caps. Cap-n-trade gets you known emissions but unknown costs and tax gets you unknown emissions and known costs. Tax is simpler, unless 90% of the surplus has been eaten by the rich and 10% GST cuts to the poor, and you need to invent revenue with a “shift”.

  18. Argh…need to brush up on my html…


  19. The question is predicated on cutting income taxes when the carbon tax goes into effect. Since already more than the revenue generated by the Green Shaft has been spent by other Liberal policies, — retrofitting houses, buying new fuel efficient vehicles, etc. — the question should be phrased in a cost-benefit tax and spend question.

  20. Koby, er when you say things like this: “there’s a reason why Dion favored cap ‘n trade over a carbon tax, just a short while ago,”
    all I can think of are these: “there’s a reason why Harper favoured denying the existence of climate change over accepting it as a reality… there’s a reason why Harper favoured staunchly protecting income trusts from gov’t paws over taxing it… there’s a reason why Harper favoured staying the course in Afghanistan and charging those in search of a hard deadline over a hard deadline… there’s a reason why Harper favoured firewalls in Alberta and the idea that Quebec could not be coddled before finding that money could coddle them…”
    Oh right, you’ve bored me already.

  21. MLM raises a good point…but isn’t the Harper/Layton cap-and-trade plan a better example of central planning than any carbon tax?

  22. “The high price of oil (if it can be sustained) will do more to change behaviour than any type of central planning can.”

    I hear this call about ‘central planning’ all the time regarding a carbon tax. It’s incoherent.

    Any good or service traded in our economy is affected by multiple taxes, either directly or indirectly. Naturally all of those taxes were set by governments, either federal, provincial, municipal or foreign.

    Since the price of each good and service has some tax component in it, must we then conclude our entire economic system is centrally planned?

    Secondly, to go back to the earlier point, if carbon taxes are a form of central planning, why aren’t the Conservatives eliminating them?

  23. The problem with Dion’s proposal is that nobody has any clue what price level of carbon-based products will drive a change in behaviour. What does the price/consumption curve look like for carbon based products? Not a curve generated by an economist in an ivory tower salon somewhere, but one derived from actual implemention experience in a cold, resource-intensive country like Canada?

    Even if there was a known price level that will drive different behaviour, the second problem is that there aren’t enough (if any in most cases) non-carbon based alternatives to things like home heating, agricultural production, heavy industries, etc. So you arrive at a situation where people want to change behaviour, but there are no alternatives available. Oops. So, you end up pasting even more subsidies across the economy to address this, creating an even bigger dog’s breakfast of subsidized industries across the countries, for virtually no measurable environmental benefit.

    So, Dion’s proposing we embark on this uncertain path, all the while increasing the cost of goods produced in Canada, making us less competitive, and making the cost of personal necessities (minor things like food, heating, etc) increase.

    It’s plain folly.

  24. There’s uncertainty with cap-and-trade as well, only instead of not being sure about the effects on emissions, we don’t know what the effects will be on prices. Under the Conservative plan, we may end up paying more than under a carbon tax.

  25. If this were a debate over central planning and its deficiencies, the regulation -heavy “Turning the Corner” plan would not fare better than the Green Shift. And I find it really interesting that both Stephen and the experts Mike cites above suggest that the Tory Corner plan is more focused on carbon reductions than the Green Shift, and pays less attention to economic and revenue concerns.

    We agree that Harper has cut a carbon tax. We know that he favours income tax cuts as well. He has criticised the Green Shift as a “reckless gamble”. And he has noted that it centralizes more money in Ottawa, which Dion will spend in provincial jurisdictions (breaking the first principle of federalism – to respect the constitution and not interfere in other constitutional jurisdictions).

    I’m not a professional journalist, but I would guess that, presented with the question, Harper would repeat his justifications for cutting the diesel tax, note again that he prefers attainable targets and a prudent plan for climate change and remind the audience that Dion will not entirely offset the green tax with income tax cuts. The economic disruption and impact on consumers comes from the abrupt phase-in of the new tax. The national unity risk comes from the new spending. Harper’s plan, including the recent excise tax cut, try to offset these risks. And it has the added advantage of directly controlling annual carbon emissions (instead of relying on an uncertain market reaction to a new tax.

    Coyne’s “mischievous” question seems more or less the same as teenagers who, presented with a curfew, say “well, if you think hanging out with my friends is so bad, why don’t you just lock me in my room?” Which is hard to reply to, but not because it is a penetrating insight.

  26. Yadayada,

    bang on.

  27. Taxing energy (i.e carbon) would give a massive boost to inflation and inflation is the real enemy of everyone who is at the lower end of the economic scale and on fixed incomes.

    As the Green Shift points out so clearly by not being there, the amount of CO2 that will be reduced cannot be calculated and will likely be minimal.

    we need energy in our daily lives. Tax it more and then give people an income tax drop means they will, by necessity, just take the extra money ans use it to by the now more expensive energy they need to get to work, heat their homes or power their trucks.

    What amazes me is the lack of media focus on the massive increases in social spending Dion is proposing to fund with his “revenue neutral” tax.

    Drop income taxes by $X. Raise twice or three times that amount in new carbon taxes and presto-whammo. . . revenue neutral.

    We know Dion can’t do math but does he think the rest is us are innumerate ?

    Talk about a ponzi scheme. Makes Kyoto look good.

  28. Andrew,
    Have you gone off your defence of Intensity Targets?

    On the matter at hand, price signals are the most powerful way to affect behaviour. The issue with Sion’s plan is the believability on Neutrality.

    AC’s original criticism is bang on, it is mixed in with Income resdistribution, a mistake.

    If Carbon Dioxide is so bad then does it really matter whether it is emitted by a rich or poor country or person? Why would you subsidize poor people to emit carbon dioxide, or at least mitigate so that they dont really face a choice.

    A carbon tax is supposed to change the relative price of goods. If it doesnt change the relative price then peoples behaviour will not change.

    Fundamentally the issue is the mixed objectives of the Liberal Plan, and why exempt gasoline from the tax, if only for political reasons.

    If economists ran policy then there would be a GST on food. So where are the editorials asking for that?

  29. Why is this question always looked as a tax policy question? If we had viable and cost competitive alternatives to carbon based energy, we wouldn’t need to spend time adding volumes to the tax code. Canada should help support and remove barriers to non-carbon based alternative energy sources.

    It is funny watching the parties jostle for a favorable position on how to tax energy the least when the more viable option is right in front of them.


  30. Kody- Good for you for calling out all these so called “experts.” Lord knows we wouldn’t want an “expert” opinion on anything! Just like we should be very weary of voting for a so called “Proffesor” for PM! All good Tories know that expertise and higher education are the enemy! If we listen to too many “experts” they may disrupt our carefully constructed narrative. We might have to have discussions that are about facts and logic instead of image, blind ideology and party loyalty! So yes, discount expertise and education so that we can pretend that anybody’s opinion, on anything (ex. Climate change doesn’t exist until the polls show that admitting this belief is unpopular) is equally valid. Do experts sometimes disagree? Yes, but discounting all expertise and expert opinion because you’ve watched a few shows on court TV is ludicrous!

  31. “Why is this question always looked as a tax policy question? If we had viable and cost competitive alternatives to carbon based energy, we wouldn’t need to spend time adding volumes to the tax code.”

    You wouldn’t need to add volumes to the tax code. How hard is it to change a word in the Excise Tax Act from, say, “ten” to “fifteen”?

    This process is only difficult because we’re (Canadians, political parties, etc.) making it difficult. You could do a fairly ambitious tax swap without adding one new clause to any tax law on the books.

  32. The Conservatives “myriad of regulations” amounts to a cap and trade system.

    One thing that gets overlooked is how the economic costs of a cap and trade system get distributed regionally, and of course Harper has admitted that there will be costs.

    The answer is: in a manner very similar to a carbon tax! Under the Tory “Turning the Corner” thing, oil producing provinces still get hit harder. Alberta companies emit most, therefore Alberta companies will have the most need to buy offsets or, or they’ll be required to pay into a technology fund. Most of the money in the pot generated by the regs will come from Alberta.

  33. Andrew: I believe when PM Harper cut the GST and cancelled planned income tax cuts…he effectively did just that.

  34. yadayada there are Northern European nations, now (under Harper) with higher standards-of-living than us (no economic depression), that can be used for reference. Their geography is similiar albeit milder climate (air conditioning in tropical summers might even be a bigger electricity load in summer than is continental winter heating).
    For example, with a price on carbon a new factory that uses natural gas will have an incentive to use really thick (insulating) steel pipes for their drive-trains. They will have an incentive to build their heating system first in the shortest path, followed by building the rest of the factory around the piping. Clinton Foundation says big conservation investments take 7.5 years to pay themselves back, and smaller ones (building insulation, double-paned windows) 3.5 years. This is bad economics and risky? No, it’s bad for big oil. http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/environment/climate-summit/2007/clinton-16052007-factsheet.jsp

  35. The original post was about a “mischievous” question. So let’s think of a few others.

    If the “scrap the tax!” Liberals howled vociferously about the economic ignorance of cutting the GST a couple points, why don’t they advocate raising it back to and beyond 7% instead?

    If a few hundred thousand gets cut from taxpayer gifts to self-insufficient artists, shouldn’t the opposition parties be promising billions and billions more of my taxes to them?

    If Canada would be far better off punishing its own internal economy, and its international competitiveness, with a carbon tax that other economies will wisely avoid, shouldn’t we just shut down every industry we have and start writing massive cheques to China, India and the USA now?

    If global warming is caused by CO2, shouldn’t the globe have, you know, actually warmed up the last few years as more and more carbon gets spewed atmosphere-ward?

  36. I’ve never voted Liberal in my life (nor do I have plans to), but regarding Madeyoulook’s four points:

    1 & 2: I believe the Green Party is advocating both a rise in the GST and increases in arts spending, so your suggestions aren’t unheardof. Raising the GST back and using the money for offsetting income and corporate income tax cuts would be smart. Having sales taxes harmonized in all provinces would be even smarter (in terms of bang for the buck); I hope the next government can pull that off.

    3. What other developed countries don’t have some form of carbon taxes? If carbon taxes cause industry to ‘shut down’ then why didn’t this happen in the early 1920s when the provinces of Alberta and Manitoba enacted the first carbon taxes in Canada. (Yes, *THAT* Alberta).

    More taxes are never good for business, but there’s no reason to believe that a rise in carbon taxes on business and a fall in other taxes (such as corporate income taxes and employer side EI and CPP contributions). If you’re worried about jobs, wouldn’t it make sense to lower payroll taxes (which discourage hiring) and make up the revenue loss through carbon taxes (which discourage use of carbon fuels)?

    4. Since all the parties (with potential exception of the Libertarians) including the Conservatives are talking about reducing CO2 emissions, what, exactly is your point here? Or are you claiming that what the Conservatives say they’ll do and what they’ll really do differ? (as if they have some kind of agenda that is hidden from public view)

  37. This is your house in a recession.
    This is your house in a recession with a tree through the roof.
    The hurricane doesn’t care about the economic impact, but I bet the repairs would indeed be good for the contractor.
    I thought we were moving the pivot of this discussion from the economy to the environment solely because the market doesn’t self-correct quickly enough to counteract climate change.
    It’s your call, though.

  38. If global warming is caused by CO2, shouldn’t the globe have, you know, actually warmed up the last few years as more and more carbon gets spewed atmosphere-ward?

    If this is really how you feel, why do you even bother engaging in the conversation?

    We live in a highly regulated and complex atmosphere, which can handle a certain amount of GHGs (which we can standardize as CO2 equivalents). Beyond that point, that regulation begins to fail. Sure, this regulation may not lead to an increase in global temperatures immediately, but it will lead to an increase in the variance of weather patterns, i.e. more extreme or more unusual weather. That variance will continue to increase, and the average temperature will eventually increase. If we continue to spew GHGs into the atmosphere, that regulation will completely break-down, and at that point, for every increase in GHGs, there will be a concomitant increase in temperature.

    Of course, at that point, our atmosphere will look a lot more like Mars.

    Ever wonder why it is a dead planet?


    P.W. You know, maybe you should “The Lorax”, by Dr. Seuss…it is probably at the appropriate level of comprehension for the average CPC supporter.

  39. Mike, thanks for answering, but they were only offers of mischievous Q’s. But, since you were so kind, I offer the following:

    No argument with the Greens for pushing the GST back up, but I am mostly paying attention to the policies of any party that stands a snowball’s chance in the, um, overheating Arctic of forming a government. Bloc? Dippers? Greens? All out. They can promise the moon (haven’t had the news on, maybe today Jack actually did), and it won’t matter a wee bit.

    All countries have some form of carbon tax, if they tax consumption of anything (since most anything requires carbon inputs to exist for sale), or income (since most jobs are supported by carbon inputs). The point of my question was the extra marginal disadvantage of specifically increasing the burden of using carbon, in a country that relies on it, when competing nations that also rely on it will not suffer the same burden. We’ll-shoot-ourselves-in-the-foot-first is just the sort of nice “Canadian” value the stupid stereotype is supposed to portray; I just hope we’re smarter than that. Oh, and agreed that all federal taxes are too high. If Ottawa could keep its nose out where it doesn’t belong (municipal & provincial jurisdiction, weekend festivals in the “right” ridings, wooable ethnic associations, etc.), we could cut taxes across the board, leave carbon alone AND pay down the debt, chunk by chunk.

    Fourth Q: My point is that (heresy alert! heresy alert!) I am not convinced that the Earth is burning up as CO2 output rises, since the thermometers, I have been told, have not been rising the last few years even though, Kyoto be ignored, everyone’s belching out more carbon. I make absolutely no claim as to the Conservative’s agenda (freebie for the trolls: of course you haven’t, it’s hidden!).

  40. Of the ten warmest years on record, 8 are in the last ten years. 1998 was exceptionally warm, probably El Nino synching up with something else. Weasels use that year as the baseline.
    When you install a one-way mirror (GHG molecules) and don’t see warming, the effects have to go somewhere. Oceans is your only denier bastion of refuge. Best case denier scenario is we are in an ocean cycle that partially mitigates warming until 2020 when warming really takes off. It’s not a trendline, it’s physics.
    I guess we are building ships and observing mountain pine beetle, species migration, because…god?

  41. We live in a highly regulated and complex atmosphere, which can handle a certain amount of GHGs (which we can standardize as CO2 equivalents). Beyond that point, that regulation begins to fail. [and other *cough* scientific predictions of doom]…

    “Beyond that point,” maybe you’re right, maybe you’re not. That’s a lot of surefire predictions you’re throwing out there Austin, almost like you’ve seen the future. Have you? Don’t keep it a secret, that should be front page news!

    The absolute certainty of predictions of mother earth boiling over remind me of the chicken littles a few decades back claiming human activity was creating an impending ice age. How did that turn out?

    Pepper the predictions with appropriately humble uncertainty factors, and maybe overhauling our way of life looks a little more foolish.

    Reduce inefficiencies? Cool. Cut back on pollution of our air and water? Yup. Do as much or more with less? Where do I sign up. Smog and acid rain stink? I am so there. Turn the world upside down because there’s too much CO2 to feed photosynthesis, and we’re all burning up? If you pay full attention to the science, we are not yet there.

  42. “Beyond that point,” maybe you’re right, maybe you’re not. That’s a lot of surefire predictions you’re throwing out there Austin, almost like you’ve seen the future. Have you? Don’t keep it a secret, that should be front page news!

    Bud, you were making the point about “duh how come CO2 levels haven’t led to an increase in temperature???”. And I’m trying to explain to you why it doesn’t necessarily present itself in the measure you are relying on. Mars is an example brought up by a lot of “climate-change-deniers” because of its wholly natural increase in temperature, but the point that it is a freakin’ dead planet is lost on them.

    Do you understand the difference between “average” and “variance”, when it comes to measurements? Which index gives you a better idea of “stability”?

    If your fridge fluctuated between 0C and 20C, with an average of 4C, would you consider it in better shape than one that fluctuated between 2-6C? Or would you think that maybe you should get it fixed? Why is that? From this kind of simplistic standpoint, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that fridge since the average temperature is still 4C.

    You’re right in one sense, it has to do with “certainty”, but you fall into the binary trap of yes-no outcomes. Yes, there is no such thing as 100% certainty. But you can certainly assign plausibility to an outcome based on the facts that are at your disposal.

    It is not about “overhauling” our way of life, it is precisely about reduction in inefficiencies, which happens to have an impact on our ecological footprint. We waste a huge amount of resources because of these inefficiencies for the sake of that extra buck or two, and that happens to have a huge impact on our environment and our planet.

    If someone helped you reduce your inefficiencies, would you balk at the offer?

    If prices of good made or delivered efficiently cost less, you would refuse to buy?

    And no, we are not “there” yet, and that is the _whole_ _freakin’_ _point_. There is a chance that there is something that can be done about it right now, if not for the self-centred asses of the world who can’t think beyond the dollar being waved in their faces.


    P.S. And for the love of christ, CO2 is a measurement convention to which all GHGs are standardized.

  43. Ah, we’re trotting out the environmental myths again, eh?

    The world hasn’t warmed since 1998. Myth #11 in popularity. Debunked. 1998 was an exceptionally warm year, but if you follow the trend lines, we’re still warming.

    Ice Ages were predicted in the 1970’s. Myth #7 in popularity. Red Herring. There were a very small number of scientific papers that predicted global cooling, primarily based on increased aerosol spray use, or orbital fluctuation. The media picked up on these ones as they tended to predict the most sensational results, in truth, however, the scientific literature of the time was already mostly backing the theory of global warming where they could make any prediction at all.


  44. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

    Absence of a civil tone reflects far more poorly on the spewer of same. Free advice for you, Austin. Oh, and another piece: if you want to refute a point, go ahead. But look at the point you’re trying to refute and stay on point.

    Average, variance and the fridge: nice verbiage, no point. Temps go up, temps go down, that’s the thing about a planet that tilts seasonally. You want to scare me that the average is ticking up a bit over decades? When, as best as anyone can tell us, climate was more extreme than this centuries ago? Well, sorry, it’ll take more than that to scare me.

    Have you read Kyoto? It is most precisely about overhauling our way of life. Carbon reduction pledges were insane for Canada; the planet is not warming fast enough for us to abandon fossil fuels to keep our hinds from freezing. This country is still a thin string of humanity across a mighty long line. Sorry kids, we can’t fly to the West Coast to see Grandma and Granddad, we’ve already used up our carbon ration staying alive through last winter. Mom insisted we eat fresh vegetables in January, so our carbon allowance is already in the red. The only thing I will thank prior Liberal governments for is their rank hypocrisy over committing to Kyoto: talk a good game in international meetings, ignore it completely at home.

    And now, proof you didn’t read my comment before your profane reply: If someone helped you reduce your inefficiencies, would you balk at the offer? Let’s look at the transcript, shall we? Reduce inefficiencies? Cool.

    To summarize:

    The trend seemed to be there for a bit, that the earth is warming up a wee bit. But we’ve gone up and down before.

    It is not proven to me that increasing global CO2 production is baking us.

    It is by no means certain that curbing global CO2 output will make a difference to where the thermometers are headed.

    If the earth is warming, regardless of cause, to look only at the downside of this is unbalanced, at best. Can we not imagine any global benefits of this trend?

    It is absolutely certain that wholesale reduction in Canadian output will do zilch to global CO2 output, particularly if China, India, USA and others ignore globally induced and thoroughly unenforceable targets.

    It is poor policy choice to impose insane reductions at the front end, for a maybe, rather than do what humanity has always done: adapted if necessary.

    If we can get cleaner and more efficient, that’s wonderful. To totally re-engineer our way of life in the hope that we will do less damage to our future than we will certainly do to ourselves, that’s nuts.

    Good night.

  45. At times like this it would be nice if Canadians could actually read the reports that the Government commissions and pays for out of Canadians’ pockets. I bet that would go a long way in furthering Canadians’ understanding of the facts and issues.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Canadians are suckled on little honey-tits made up of corners of gunny sacks dipped in unpasteurized milkpap. And made to like it, or else.

  46. Myth #2: Climate’s Changed Before, this is just climate changing again. Debunked. All normal climate drivers (such as solar variation, milankovitch cycles, and volcanoes), with the exception of CO2, do not indicate that we should be experiencing the temperature climb that we are seeing.

    Myth #32: There is no empirical evidence that CO2 is causing global warming. Debunked. Longer explanation, so I’ll use a link instead.

    Myth #26: Human caused CO2 is only a small % of CO2 emissions, so curbing our output won’t make a difference. Debunked. Human caused CO2 is only a small % of the total CO2, yes, but it is the straw that breaks the camels back, as natural mechanisms can absorb natural emissions. Our extra emissions are too much for the system, and the danger with gaseous CO2 is that it lasts for such a long period.

    That said, you are correct that curbing our CO2 won’t have an immediate effect on whether the earth continues to heat. It will, however, prevent it from accelerating as fast as it would otherwise, giving us more time to come up with solutions to the problems a warmer world is going to give.

    Myth #12: Global Warming is Good.
    There are a few positives to global warming, yes, espcially for Canada. These are by far outweighed by the massive detriments, especially in the areas of disease and pest control, and in the increased volatility of the weather preventing good farming.

    Now, some non-myths finally. It’s very true that adjusting our CO2 emissions will not make much difference to the global CO2 emissions level. However, the process of us adjusting these emissions will serve as an example to countries like India and China as to how they can reduce their emissions while remaining prosperous, and will also prepare us by making us develop the know-how and technology to do this task, and thus be ready to sell it to them, or simply use it to curb our own energy usage as the price of non-renewables skyrockets as the demand from China and India ramp up.

    It is a poor policy choice to not impose reductions at the front end while we still have the opportunity to mitigate the damage and thus prepare for the real energy crisis when we would have to adapt anyway.

    To totally re-engineer our way of life is going to happen sooner or later. The demand of China and India for non-renewables will guarantee that. All we get to do is control the pace at which we have to do it.

  47. Personally I favour a tax on ALL forms of energy. Never mind carbon – EVERYTHING. Raise the price of energy by 50% over 5 years or so, and balance it out by committing every penny of revenue to income tax cuts. Taxing only certain forms of energy makes no sense. If you make carbon more expensive, maybe I’ll use “clean” energy. But every unit of clean energy I use is a unit you can’t use. It might force you to use carbon-based energy anyways. Instead, keep it simple. Tax energy consumption. Period. But that would make people angry and not employ enough bureaucrats. In Canada, we like our taxes hidden and our programs complex, costly and bloated.

  48. After J.Baird’s Spring/2007 absence of an AGW plan (he doesn’t even address his own portfolio now for fear of losing his own riding), I put some planned research into improving patent regimes and medical clinical trials reforms (both very boomer friendly) on hold to study AGW very intensely. Right off the bat I found any persons or institutions with ties to the lobby/law firms that represented asbestos and tobacco, used lies. A far easier chaff filter than learning all of the interdisciplinary physical sciences fields, is look for a sin industry connection to denier “science”.

  49. AC,

    What is mischievous about rock, hard, stupidity? If only consumers were involved, and if Ottawa could actually do throughput without a major shave on the way, the question might be valid, but since both are untrue, the question is moot and you know it, or ought to.

    Let’s consider the example of Nova Scotia. The power co. generates 85% of it’s electricity with thermal plants, the vast majority being coal fired. The power co.’s costs are 50% fuel for thermal, 50% everything else from soup to nuts. The “Green Shift” will put an $85/tonne tax on coal which costs $50/tonne now, an increase of 170%. Do the next bit of math if you can. Here is the answer: Power rates will increase 50% as a result.

    Consumers will get tax breaks to offset the higher costs? Great. Industry? Hmmmmmmmm. This will destroy the the highest wage employer in the province, the pulp and paper industry, as well as the next best industrial employer, Michelin (3 large plants). Not finished yet, the Imperial oil refinery in Dartmouth takes a hit both as a large consumer of electricity and a large emitter of GHG’s and as the oldest and smallest in the country.

    You want to see poor? Nova Scotia will set a new national standard for poor under the “Green Shift”.

    ps, For any idiot who says “stop burning coal”, I say great. Give us a 20 year exemption in writing, and we’ll construct new power plants, otherwise, sod off.

  50. Peter,

    your common sense (and basic math) have no place in high minded theoretical academic discussions that tell us we can save the world. Thinking we can save the world makes us feel good. We want to feel good (and it helps if we can feel superior and smarter than you as well).

    Now go back to the real world where you belong.

  51. Pulp and paper is already hammered. Long-term it is losing 5% per year to internet and soon more to polymer paper. Coal has no future until CCS demonstrated.
    For businesses, energy efficiency pays for itself in 7.5 years. For homeowners, 3.5 years. Show me another federal investment that returns a 20%/yr annuity (that’s very good economics)? Wind turbines are 3-4x as employee intensive as oil (probably similiar for coal). There is no one speaking for those jobs that aren’t being harnessed by nimble governments/industry. This is a reason maybe to petition Layton/Dion to include NS (and everywhere with coal) first in the retrofit programme? They would need to hire lots of federal carpentry inspectors, honest. Ask for the training school to be located in coal towns. I’m 27 and I’ve had over two dozen employers and only once into double digits hourly (I’ve been one of those sawmill temps flipping bulk cuts of lumber for $8/hr and all the sawdust I can inhale). No jobs for life in global workforce. A reason to vote for a party with good safety net and retraining platform? Kids need us to end coal.

  52. Peter, congratulations on finding the worst possible case in the Green Shift program. You’re looking at the costs after four years, following the full ramp up, for the absolute worst type of energy production. In the first year, the shift is only 21.3 and that’s for the “dirty” bituminous kind, not “clean” coal which is sub-bituminous.

    Now, if you’re saying Nova Scotia is so impervious to innovation that on seeing the taxes start up in the first year, they will simply refuse to use sub-bituminous, and so will sit there like lumps just bitching about the increasing taxes instead of doing anything about it, then I suppose you guys may be in for a hard time.. in four years.

    Of course, countering this is that industry DOES in fact get income tax breaks, just like consumers do. As you’ve obviously read the plan, it would seem you should be aware of that. Or perhaps you are and are just twirling, twirling, twirling..

    However, it’s interesting that in your example, you point out one of the strengths of the Green Shift, that being that your power plants can actually look ahead and start budgeting for it. Tell me, how much will it cost Nova Scotia to purchase the carbon emission credits under the Conservative or NDP plans it would need in order to offset Nova Scotian power plants being for some reason unable to convert to clean coal?

    Think it’ll cost as little as $21.3/tonne in the first year?

    While the Green Shift may not be ideal (no plan will be because they are requiring us to make the effort not to waste), being able to predict the costs you’ll have to pay, and getting a reduction in income tax along with strikes me as a helluva lot better than having to purchase carbon credits off of something resembling a financial market. After all, given Lehman today, we’re all aware of how little speculation occurs in these types of things.

    But hey, take your choice. Take the carbon tax hike with the income tax cut, or just take the carbon cost hike and do without the income tax cut. Or I suppose you could hope that Harper is simply lying once again about wanting to put into place an environmental plan (not necessarily a bad strategy.. there’s certainly precedent that he might be simply full of crap) and so get a few more years before the cost of coal starts to shoot through the roof catching all of us totally unprepared as people won’t have had much incentive to start figuring out solutions to energy usage problems.

    So.. choices:

    Pay a predictable amount with rebate and avoid being hostage to energy shortage/crises (Liberals/Greens)

    Pay an unpredictable amount with no rebate, but avoid being hostage to energy shortage/crises (NDP, stated Con)

    Pay an unpredictable amount with no rebate and be hostage to energy shortage/crises. (Likely Con)

    Go ahead. Pick one.

  53. T. Thwim, the “other coal” still attracts a carbon tax of $70/tonne, which puts power rates up 40% instead of 50%. The result is the same, no more pulp and paper industry, 10,000 direct extremely high wage jobs and 80,000 spin off jobs……..gone. The industry is currently just breaking even due to intense competition from Brazil. Tax cuts don’t help a business without big tax bills. In the case of power utilities, they earn a regulated profit of about 10%, which makes taxes about 4% as a percentage of revenue; a tax cut makes no impact on a 40% change in cost structure.

    Twirl that.

  54. Peter: You’re still assuming that they haven’t moved to greener forms of pulp and paper creation in four years (because, once again, that’s the fourth year price, with it being progressively lower in each of the years previous) and are still using the same fuel despite its costs increasing year over year.

    To be honest, if the Nova Scotians that run your paper mill industry are that dumb, then they deserve to be out of business, and likely soon will be anyway because the energy costs are definitely not trending downward.

    Sounds like this’d be a great time for the Atlantic provinces to start moving toward greener industries, and what you need is an incentive to get consumers buying green products. Hey.. that sounds like something I’ve heard of somewhere..

  55. There are 3 P&P operations in NS. Owned and operated by Finns, Brits, and Yanks, I think.
    Who really knows these days. Could be registered in Delaware or Liberia. Doesn’t really matter.
    In any case, they are all barely hanging on and compete mostly by wringing as much out of the provincial coffers as possible.
    They’ve done well in the past based on decades of access to free or cheap fibre, relatively low tax and electricity rates, and a low dollar. They’ve used those advantages to clear-cut willy-nilly around the province.
    Which bothers Nova Scotians only when they actually have to see it or when the run-off despoils a recreational river for a while.
    There is more to the environment than carbon.

    NSP had an option (may still have ) a few years back to convert to natural gas. The pipeline from Sable made it convenient. They chose not to because they were getting cheap-labour coal from lovely open-pit operations in Columbia and Venezuela. Nice,eh? When NSP was privatized, part of the deal was that rate increases were to be reviewed by the Utilities Review Board.
    Partially in exchange for that NSP was granted a guaranteed rate of return. Peter says 10%. I remember it as originally 14%. No matter. Whatever it is, it’s guaranteed. Nice,eh.
    Perhaps when they go before the UAB the rate of return should be reviewed as well. Maybe an inverse relationship. When one goes up, the other goes down.

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