Preston Manning on putting a price on carbon

by Aaron Wherry

In September, Preston Manning was linked vaguely to a new call for a carbon tax—he was said to support the idea of full-cost pricing “in principle.”

For the sake of clarification, I passed along a question to him through his office: “Do you support establishing a price on carbon, either through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system?”

Here is the response I received via email yesterday.

“I support the concept of moving towards full cost accounting with respect to energy production – which means determining the negative environmental impacts associated with any energy project, adopting measures to avoid or mitigate those effects, and ultimately integrating the costs of those measures into the price of the product.

As you know, the two principal approaches to accomplishing this, with respect to the production of energy from hydrocarbons, are through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system. I believe that the carbon tax involves less interference by governments in the marketplace than the cap-and-trade approach.

However I also believe that the carbon tax is misnamed, as the public’s idea of a tax is a levy on income or the sale of a good or asset, the proceeds of which go to the government to pay for public services – which is fundamentally different from the economist’s idea of using a tax to internalize an externality. It is the communication of the carbon tax concept to the public which I feel was hopelessly bungled.

I also believe that if you are going to apply full cost accounting to the production of energy from petroleum sources, then the same concept should be applied to every other energy source, since none is environmentally neutral. For example when the oil sands producers tear up several hundred square kilometers of forests in northern Alberta, the cost of mitigating that activity are incorporated into the cost of the operations through reclamation bonds. But where then is the reservoir tax on the hydro producers of this country who have flooded forest areas in Canada the size of lake Ontario? And similarly, where is the radiation tax on nuclear power producers, and where are the environmental levies on wind and solar producers?

In my view the application of full cost accounting and pricing to hydrocarbon producers should be conditional upon the simultaneous application of this concept to all other energy producers.”




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Preston Manning on putting a price on carbon

  1. But where then is the reservoir tax on the hydro producers of this country who have flooded forest areas in Canada the size of lake Ontario?

    I’ve heard Manning make this response in the past on CBC’s The House when responding to Mulcair’s Dutch Disease later reconfigured as Polluter Pay creed. I took it to be mostly directed at Hydro Quebec (can’t remember if he singled out the province at the time, but clearly he was referring to the James Bay development of the 70s and 80s)

    Manning has a point, to a degree. But, what specifically is it?

    Is he speaking on a go forward basis, or is he advocating carbon taxing based on past history (trees eviscerated by large hydro projects, and the GHG associated with concrete production thirty or fourty years ago )? If it’s the past history say going back to 1970, it would seem to me that Alberta’s O&G industry may lose out, relatively, on this accounting exercise.

    Perhaps, Aaron, you can follow up and ask what precisely Manning is proposing vis a vis hydroelectric? Going forward (seems reasonable) or retroactively (seems unwieldy and hence unreasonable).

    On a go forward basis, assuming widespread carbon taxes are in place, the net effect of the concrete would be incorporated into the price. And loss of carbon sinks (trees and vegetation flooded – a one time charge which in the Canadian shield or northern climes may not be as significant as in say the rainforest of S. America)

    • Here’s a CBC story with a link to the House interview.

      Yes, it appears it was indeed an Alberta/Quebec dichotomy that Manning was setting up, old habits I guess:

      Preston Manning is calling out “hypocritical” federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair for “preaching” to Alberta while turning a blind eye to the environmental cost of producing energy in Quebec.

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/06/09/pol-the-house-preston-manning-thomas-mulcair-hypocritical.html

      • Just can’t take the politics out of the old dog…er, politician eh!

    • There’s no reason to expect hydro developments to be exempt from a carbon tax.

      I suspect he meant we cannot address the externality of carbon emissions without addressing all externalities everywhere. We need a habitat destruction tax for hydro, a radiation tax for nuclear, a ugly tower tax on wind, a heavy metal tax on solar panels, and THEN (and only then) can we talk about a carbon tax.

      In other words, he’s being obstructionist. He’s just carrying water for the oil and gas industry.

  2. Another attempt to confuse the issue I see. Deliberate? I don’t know.

    It would be nice if we could clean up every creek, preserve every forest, save every animal….that is environmentalism in general…tree-huggers if you will….but that’s not what humans are trying to do.

    The goal here and now is reducing C02….specifically C02…in the atmosphere.

    It is not about announcing new parks, building filtration plants or picking up litter. Those things would be nice, but they won’t stop the Arctic from melting.

    • Emily, it’s CO2, not C02.

      • Sorry Officer, I was in a hurry….but I’m glad the web police caught it.

  3. and where are the environmental levies on wind and solar producers?

    That was a silly thing to add. How far back or how far forward does this go?

    • yes that was a bum note in his comments that made little sense.

  4. Full-cost accounting or the fundamental economic tenet of the Green Party… interesting, Mr. Manning

  5. It`s interesting to see Manning still using his skills to analyze and offer views on complex subjects while other former political leaders seem to be content to go back and use their contacts to make some more family money.

    However, if Manning is proposing to spread the responsibility for environmental impact around to other industries, I think he may have overlooked the real culprit—the cow.
    There are more beef being raised now than ever and each animal produces 100 kg. of methane every year which is equivalent in harmful effects to over 2000 kg. of CO2.

    I read about those surprising figures somewhere, and I have no idea how scientists could accurately measure the flatulence of a cow, but, hey if a few retired former PM`s have some time on their hands, this would be a worthwhile project.

    • A carbon tax would probably deal with the methane at the same time — just not directly. But the carbon price of raising a cow — it’s food, housing, transport, slaughtering facilities, meat transport, etc — is not inconsequential. A carbon tax would probably raise the price of beef enough that demand would drop. Which in turn lowers supply and your methane difficulties.

      And yes, while methane is a greenhouse gas with much more significant effects than CO2, the difference is that it tends to come out of the atmosphere in about 12 years, whereas CO2 takes between 50-200. So slowing our production of methane down (by, say, a carbon tax) will give us results fairly quickly.

      That’s part of the problem with CO2 — because it hangs around for so damn long, by the time we really start to see the effects, we’re going to be dealing with those for up to two centuries.. and so even if we start to make adjustments then, we’ll still be dealing with the problems ramping UP for a couple hundred years. So it’s a problem we have to deal with before we really have proof it’s a problem, because if we ever do have that proof it’ll be far too late to fix it. And that’s just too damn hard for some people to get their heads around.

      • What happens to the food (produced from photosynthesis – taking CO2 out of the atmosphere) if the cow doesn’t eat it?

        • Probably something else eats it, assuming it’s produced anyway. Very likely that something else will be much less carbon/methane intensive.. because cows are actually particularly inefficient at converting grain to usable meat.

          What they are efficient at, however, is time for butchering. You get a hell of a lot more meat off a single cow than you do off of most other animals.. so it’s an easier kill/clean but those processes aren’t terribly carbon intensive when compared to transport.

          • No, I’m referring to the bio cycle.

            If I use your numbers, at best you can shift CO2 levels associated with cows 12 years. Let me explain in more detail:

            Take CO2 out of the atmosphere in the form of feed grain (I will neglect the use of fertilizers etc)

            It is fed to the cow.

            The cow produces methane and meat. The methane remains in the atmosphere as CH4 before it degrades to CO2 for 12 years.

            The meat is eaten by humans who digest it. And burp or produce feces as a result – which degrades into CO2 eventually (perhaps first as methane).

            End of cycle.

          • “(I will neglect the use of fertilizers etc)”
            Critical omission, that corn doesn’t plant itself. Fuel to drive the tractor? Fuel to transport the corn from cash crop Farmer A to the elevator to feedlot Farmer B?
            In a fuel-less world, I get your point. Then again, in a fuel-less world, we wouldn’t have this issue to begin with.

          • Acknowledged, but omitted because it’s not germane to the “flatulent” cow argument.

          • Hey, editing after I replied….

            Probably something else eats it, assuming it’s produced anyway. Very likely that something else will be much less carbon/methane intensive.. because cows are actually particularly inefficient at converting grain to usable meat.

            You need to read the wiki entry on Conservation of Matter [Mass].
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_of_mass

            It’s a closed system. Biofuels (food) have no net effect on CO2 emissions. CO2 taken out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis is returned, eventually (assuming it is not sequestered naturally – a very very small amount).

          • So we no longer need to transport food for the cows to eat it? Do they magically absorb it from the croplands? The more food we need to move to produce the same amount of food for us, the worse the emissions are.

          • That’s a different argument. Get free range cows. Or power the vehicles with biofuels.

          • Dot: do you have a source for the fraction of carbon naturally sequestered following photosynthesis being small? I would have assumed in natural biosystems the fraction sequestered would be substantial at least for intermediate scales, less for crops since they are cultivated to produce the bits we eat.

          • Not without searching. But, it’s the carbon that ends up in the form of shale, coal, various hydrocarbons. Deposited, covered, and trapped over eons (much degrades and percolates up through the strata). A good portion of this small amount on ocean floors bottoms through plankton etc.)

          • One way to calculate would be to compare the atmospheric concentration of CO2 over historical time prior to the use of fossil fuels.

          • When you produce crops, any carbon not released back into the atmosphere through metabolism/combustion is sequestered in the soil. Soil tends to hold only so much carbon before it reaches a steady state, and generally farming depletes soil carbon, releasing it into the atmosphere.

          • Yeah, but that is a temporary measure. Sequestered in the soil is released when the soil is disturbed.

          • Not so. Biofuels are often (dare I say usually) produced using processes that consume fossil carbon.

          • Look, you’re splitting hairs. Yes it is. Not necessarily, tho.

        • When we talk about cattle feed, we mean the carbon released in producing the feed (diesel fuel, fertilizers), not the carbon that comprises the food itself. That carbon is, as you say, from the atmosphere and will thereto return. It’s all about the fossil carbon released in producing it.

          • “When we talk about cattle feed”

            Who is “we”?

          • The collective; us?

            Look: only someone being obtuse would interpret a comment on carbon emissions from cattle feed as pertaining to the carbon literally contained within the feed.

            This is also splitting hairs.

          • Really?

            So, have you not seen the earlier post here (quite a few months ago) where someone claimed dinosaur farts were responsible for global warming, and linked to a study? Some of “us” believe this.

            So, who was growing the feed and driving the tractors back then? Freddy Flinstone?

          • OK, I think I am getting the gist of what you are saying.

            It really comes down to: The GHG efficiency of converting CO2 consuming products (fertilizer and fossil fuels) into meat. As Thwin pointed out, other protein packing animals may be more efficient.

            Cows may not be particularly efficient if they are raised in feedlots with industrial produced grains, etc.

            But the inefficiency shows up in the form of volumes of manure and methane gas. I was assuming if it doesn’t show up in the gas belched etc it would end up in the manure. I neglected to consider that the CH4 may instead be converted to meat/fat. (I don’t know one way or the other whether this is what happens).

            But I see the argument, assuming the lower methane producing cows don’t just expel the same in manure.

          • The methane comes from the gut bacteria of cattle. It may even be possible to inoculate cows with ‘low methane’ gut fauna. Who knows. For that matter we don’t really understand human gut fauna all that well, considering they are an essential part of what we call a ‘human being’. But I digress.

            Methane is not zero sum. It is a particularly unfortunate configuration of carbon (from a GW perspective). If it could be captured it could be burned and reduce its potency by ~24x. If it is never produced, the carbon might end up in the manure, where it might be broken down into CO2 by natural processes or through anaerobic digestion+combustion. It’s much easier to capture methane in a digester than by trying to capture cow burps.

          • As in my original post – at best a shift of 12 years in CH4/CO2 concentrations associated with lower methane production, assuming Thwin’s #s were correct.

          • Andrew,

            You seem quite knowledgeable about this topic. And I noted rather dismissive of Manning earlier (much moreso than I was being.)

            Are you involved in this effort (reducing GHG) at work? That would explain better to me the “we” used below.

            And while I’ve got your attention – a Q you missed or ignored from me in an earlier post.

            Emissions from vehicles:

            two scenarios:

            1) catalytic converter installed on vehicles through regulation to reduce CO and NOx.

            2) CAFE standards to improve energy efficiency by 50%

            In the first, clearly a cost – no improvement in fuel economy (post combustion/exhaust) . In the second, a cost on avg of $700 say, and an average fuel saving of say $500/yr. Clearly not a cost if you include gas fuel savings.

            Should economists treat 2 (CAFE) different than 1 ? And how do you calculate cost/tonne CO2 on #2?

          • Dot,

            No, I just have a curious mind. There is a lot of FUD surrounding CO2/AGW, so it behooves one to know enough about it to contradict unscientific claims.

            I was dismissive of Manning because he was essentially taking the ‘do nothing’ stance, and dressing it up as being reasonable. He knows full well that it would take decades (and probably forever) to implement all the preconditions he calls for in terms of regulating the environmental impacts of other energy sources. In other words, he’s calling for permanent delay of action. It fools the gullible. Much like the approach the government has taken of hitching our climate change action to the US. Plainly counting on US inaction, they can fool the gullible into believing they intend to act, while in reality they oppose action and are making use of plausible cover.
            Regarding your two interventions, the first one addresses a tragedy of the commons problem (pollution) by enforcing collective action. The second one does this also, but does not need justification on these grounds. The example you give has a payback of 1.5 years, which is a high ROI. I think most rational manufacturers and consumers would make that choice absent government dictat.

            I think an economist would say: why should I evaluate which is better? Put a price on carbon through a carbon tax (CO2 equivalents) and let the market determine which activities generate enough value to warrant the CO2 emissions. Use the proceeds to compensate those who will be impacted by global warming either broadly (cut other taxes, repay debt), or through more targeted GW mitigation efforts (coastal erosion, say).

          • The example you give has a payback of 1.5 years, which is a high ROI. I think most rational manufacturers and consumers would make that choice absent government dictat.

            Agree. But, if you accept the EPA numbers in its study, there is a +ve payback.

            It’s like the productivity argument. Many investments in productivity / training have +ve payback. So, why don’t companies invest? This is an example where gov’t can’t regulate.

            Note: see what Paul Boothe, now with Ivey Biz school blogged after attending a Mike Moffatt – like case study class discussion:

            In thinking about it afterwards, the class caused me to reflect a little on the current policy (not political) debate regarding different approaches to reducing emissions. It struck me that real world regulation suffered unfairly in comparison to theoretical (and thus viewed under ideal conditions) economic instruments. In reality, taxes are rarely uniformly applied and always require a tax collection mechanism that can be more or less cumbersome and costly. Likewise, cap and trade systems are almost always reserved for large emitters and permits are rarely auctioned as theoretical efficiency demands. Again, running the system and auditing emissions is rarely considered.

            This led me to realize that I am not sure if I would recommend an economic instrument over regulation without seeing the actual implementation of both approaches. In the second best world of real policy making, theoretical rankings go out the window and there is no substitute for a case-by-case comparison of actual policy alternatives.

            I guess this is why academic policy research, as important as it is, can never fully replace the practical policy analysis done by technically expert public servants.

            That’s what I learned in school today…

            http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://paulboothe.ca/2012/09/comparing-theoretical-policies-to-practical-ones/

          • I’m not saying there is no role for regulation. I meant to mention that models usually assume rational actors with perfect information and unlimited resources to calculate the utility of various choices. That’s not true in the real world, and as a result there may be some failures that could/should be corrected through regulation. Trying to do the job solely with regulation will require heavy-handed, draconian regulation, where doing it in conjunction with carbon pricing will allow lighter touches.
            A carbon tax can be pretty straightforward, especially when it comes to fossil fuels. Only a relatively small number of firms would need to be monitored to apply a carbon tax to gasoline, natural gas, coal, diesel, etc. Refineries can be charged a carbon tax according to the carbon content of the oil that goes in, with credits for any products not intended for use as fuel (say, heavier components used for asphalt). Same goes for natural gas and coal distributors.

            Emissions from farming, forestry, and oil and gas extraction will be trickier, but not insurmountable. A cap and trade scheme would be very difficult to make broad and efficient due to rent seeking, as you say.

    • They put cows in sealed chambers and measure the concentration of methane after a period of time. Pretty simple.

      They are using this to try to breed cattle for low methane production. These are the kinds of things that would shake out of a carbon tax.

  6. Shorter Preston Manning: I support a tax on everything so long as we have multiple taxes on everything.
    If these same words were written by a Liberal/Dipper/Green, the CPC war machine would be going into overdrive right now.

    • In all seriousness, Manning has a very valid point about internalizing externalities.
      I do wonder though, with CPC MPs quoting Jack Mintz during Member Statements, perhaps opposition MPs will begin quoting Preston Manning?
      Truly we have all gone mad if that’s the case.

      • Shouldn’t that read mis-quoting Mintz? And Gordon…and someone called Harper! I could keep going on, but it gets tedious after a while.

  7. Meh, I wonder why people are worried specifically about inventing a new carbon tax when they have a perfectly good one already called the GST. Almost no good or service is carbon neutral, so if you increase the GST you are essentially putting a price on hydrocarbons. You get the internalizing the externality effect, a dead-weight loss to reduce consumption, and you meet your environmental targets. Sure you would have an economic slowdown, but that’s pretty much what a carbon tax is supposed to do, or else it doesn’t really discourage the use of energy.

    • No. Because GST does not adjust based on the carbon intensity of the product.

      The plastic toy wrapped in three layers of plastic packaging has a lot higher carbon intensity than the wooden toy in a cardboard box. They both cost 39.95.. GST does not tax carbon.

      The point of a carbon tax is not to slow down the economy. It’s to tax carbon. That doing this *might* slow down the economy is a side effect (and there’ve been a number of studies out there that suggest it wouldn’t.. the economy would just shift)

      • I think you’re technically correct. But it is interesting that an economist like Jeff Rubin is saying that the only way to fix the problem is to stop growing – basically slow the economy to a crawl.

        • Jeff Rubin’s thesis is bunk. He thinks $300 a barrel oil will make it impossible to move goods around. Sure, when we’re talking about shipping bricks or cement from China. But ships are REALLY energy efficient ways of moving things around. In a world with higher energy prices, ships sail slower (or become nuclear powered), trains are used more extensively, and trucks are used more efficiently. Air freight becomes rather impractical for heavy things like fruit. But globalization chugs right along.

          I seriously doubt that he has done a proper sensitivity analysis. Unless he thinks oil is going to $1000/barrel.

    • For the same reason you wouldn’t drop taxes on cigs and booze etc and boost the GST to 30-50%

    • If people are really all that concerned about C02 emissions why increase the GST? Why can’t people decide to consume less if they are so concerned about climate warming?? Do you know anyone who has decided to consume less because of global warming?

      • There are plenty of em out there. You just have to open your eyes…and your mind.

        • You are very generous in your reply. I merely asked if you know anyone who has decided to consume less because of global warming. Now it appears you have a list of plenty. Still, one name would do.

          I do open my eyes and my mind; that’s why I asked around. And since you proclaim to have the answers, it would be nice if you could provide them in detail. Convince us of what you say is actually true.

          • Let’s get this right. You actually think i’m ging to put names to people that i know who are attempting to cut back on their consumption – live more minimally?

          • Yes, of course. They would be proud of being named, not?

          • You really are …different :)

          • I am……..serious!

            Would like to have names and find out how much such people are willing to sacrifice in the name of global warming. We could do a questionair and such. Would be very insightful, would it not?

          • I am……..serious!

            ***

            no…you are not.

          • Yes, I am very serious. I do not know of any person who is willing to sacrifice in order to reduce GHG emissions. If you know such a person, please let me know.

          • That might have something to do with an insular life in Turkeypucker, Alta.

          • Has it occurred to you they might not like to see their names here? Sorry, but i haven’t the time or patience for silly games.

          • Like I’ve said: they would be proud of being named, not? All in the name of doing good for the environment! Who would not be willing to lend one’s name to such a cause?

            This is not a game, kcm2. GHG emissions are in direct relation to personal responsibility, and I’m saying we don’t show such responsibility.

            You may think otherwise. You may think that plenty of people out there sacrifice in the name of global warming, but I’m saying it ain’t true.

          • A questionnaire, that’s a good idea…seriously, a very good idea.

            What are some of the parameters of this questionnaire or survey that you have in mind?

          • First off: To name me a person (persons) who is willing to sacrifice in the name of global warming. This suggested questionnaire would not be of the hypothetical kind. It would ask real questions in regards to the lifestyle of the person so identified, taking into account level of income first of all.

          • Allright, I think I see where you are going…questions like how big is your home, do you turn down the thermostat at night (and to what target), how often do you travel by air for vacation, have you upgraded your insulation, do you carpool and so on and so on.

            And then what would we do with that questionnaire? What is our goal?

          • You are seriously interested in what my suggested questionnaire might ask. But that’s a good thing; I am serious about this too.

            Still, no person has come forward to openly state what he or she would sacrifice in the name of global warming. We need at least one person to step forward before we could present the suggested questionnaire.

            I hate to disappoint you though: the questions you put forth would not be part of my questionnaire. Mine would be much more simple in that only one question would have to be asked.

          • ” It would ask real questions in regards to the lifestyle of the person
            so identified, taking into account level of income first of all.”

            “Mine would be much more simple in that only one question would have to be asked.”

            *snort* Hard to keep your story straight when it’s all bullsh$t isn’t it, Francien?

          • ” It would ask real questions in regards to the lifestyle of the person
            so identified, taking into account level of income first of all.”

            Those would be questions in regards to the person stepping forward, not the questions pertaining to the sacrifices made by such a person, which would be the question being asked within the questionnaire.

            Still haven’t found a person who would be willing to step forward?

          • Right, because the “It” in ” It would ask real questions” isn’t your “questionnaire”.
            It’s hard to stop lying once you’ve started, isn’t it?

            “Still haven’t found a person who would be willing to step forward?”

            Yeah, if only there was some sort of technology available in which you could look for information, find out what different people are doing and what their opinions are on different subjects. Maybe you’d be able to use it to easily and quickly determine if anyone anywhere has ever tried to reduce their carbon footprint.
            Untill there is I guess you’ll just have to troll the Macleans board beclowing yourself. Oh

            well.

          • “Beclowning”, obviously.

          • OK, so what is that single question?

          • Such question can only be asked to the person who is willing to sacrifice in the name of global warming and is willing to come forward to say so.

          • Why so coy? Seems more like a game, and less like a serious discussion.

          • What do you mean? Seriously, I cannot address the questionnaire to anyone else but the person who is willing to state that he or she is willing to sacrifice in the name of global warming. Doing otherwise would make a mockery of the questionnaire.

          • Yes indeed, a mockery. :-)

          • Had a chance to look at this article yet?

      • Welcome to Econ 201.
        In economics, this is called the Tragedy of the Commons. Taking vehicle pollution as an example, in short, for each individual they decide the convenience of driving to work outweights the pollution they individually emit.
        Now, summarize these cost-benefit decisions over 33 million Canadians…. and you get a high level of air pollution. A high level of air pollution that no one individual has an incentive to fix, since their individual action in isolation cannot fix the problem.
        Make sense?

        • So you are trying to say that, ultimately, convenience has a price? Of course it has a price. The fact that most Canadians need a car for transportation is real. And driving a particular car model is by choice. We don’t have to drive the biggest cars; we want to drive the biggest car. Individual action can fix the problem. It’s a matter of choice.

          To reduce car emission standards is a good way for trying to accomplish by legislation what can not be legislated, namely the individual responsibilities taken.

          • Yes, convenience has a price, but you say that as if there is only a price to the individual. That convenience has both an individual AND a social cost.

            “To reduce car emission standards is a good way for trying to accomplish by legislation what can not be legislated, namely the individual responsibilities taken.”

            Is it? You speak of this as if implementing emission standards is costless to consumers. It costs GM to build a more fuel-efficient car. GM passes this on to consumers in the form of higher car prices. You also speak of this as if government has any clue what the “right” amount of emissions is. Is 40 mpg sufficient? Should it be 50 mpg? The government has no clue.

            Like any good conservative (note the small c), I believe the correct amount of emissions is best determined by free markets, when both the individual and social cost of polluting is included (i.e. internalizing the externality). This can be achieved by way of a tax on carbon consumption. Implement a price on carbon, and let the consumer be free to decide if they want to pollute with their Jeep or buy a hybrid. THAT is how you can determine whether or not people are concerned with CO2 emissions.

          • Of course, that convenience has both an individual AND a social cost. Most things we do, as individuals, have either social costs or social gains.

            I just question if an additional tax has to be implemented for making such costs apparent to people. I am saying that: no. If people were really that concerned about global warming, which some polls or some parties indicate, then that high level of concern should be reflected in the choices we make, and that reflection (by means of personal responsibility) is not present, and so what will not be done voluntarily on a personal level will be legislated. However, choice cannot be legislated. People can still choose to drive a big car. And so for the CPC to introduce fuel consumption improvements in cars is a long-about way of doing what the personal responsibility won’t do independently. Since vehicle fuel consumption accounts for 25% of Canada’s CO2 emissions, it is a good policy to implement. (the result would be the equivalent of 8 mil cars off the road.)

            And of course, such emission changes come at a cost to consumers. And no, the government does not know the ‘right’ numbers but who does? No political party has the rights to the correct numbers. To believe they do would be deluding yourself.

            I also believe in the free market doing the bidding; each person making a choice. But as I have stated before, individuals do not really make responsible choices out of free will. And so I would rather have all vehicles set new standards than having a choice between the two. Tax on carbon will only limit the poor from making choices since the rich will not take notice of an increase for very long. The carbon tax will just become part of having the convenience, as before. One does get used to an increase of cost.

            On the other hand, if all vehicles are set to certain standards, then the choice of high fuel consumption vehicle will no longer be a choice, for anyone, over time, to the betterment for everyone.

            I therefore believe that the CPC government is on the right track, by doing things incrementally without upsetting our economy. I believe that most Canadians support such incremental, cautious approach to GHG emissions.

          • So, we should not have banned CFCs that were destroying the ozone layer? We should have instead relied on each individual making the choice to not buy products containing them?

            Francien, you are not this naive. If we had taken this approach, we both know that the ozone layer would be gone.

            Banning carbon emissions is not realistic, or necessary. But we need to enforce some collective action. That’s how we address the tragedy of the commons. Individual action WILL fail as there will always be a large % of free riders.

          • Regulation limits beneficial improvement to the point where it meets the requirements of the regulation.

            A carbon tax does not have any limits to when improving efficiency is no longer beneficial other than the cost to make it that efficient.

            So sure, regulation might pull the equivalent of 8million vehicles off the road. Carbon tax might pull far more than that, with market competition being the driving force behind those improvements.

          • It would be very easy to implement a carbon tax incrementally – that benefit is not unique to the regulatory apporach.

          • Check out this link to an Econowatch post from Stephen Gordon.

            It does a pretty good job of comparing and contrasting carbon tax and regulations.

            Comments?

      • Yeah, and let’s get rid of fishing and logging quotas. I’m sure nobody will overfish or overharvest timber if such things are anything to be concerned about.

        • Thank u for proving my point: of course people aren’t willing to do what’s best for the environment. They say they do but actions tell a different story. And so quotas have to be implemented. I fully understand.

          • So, quota on carbon emissions?

          • What is your point?

      • People can decide to do so, (and I have, so take your sanctimonious crap and shove it) but currently, it costs more for an individual to do than that individual can expect to see back in tangible returns.

        For instance, it’ll probably take me more than 15 years to see back the costs for the tankless water-heater, energy efficient bulbs, and additional insulation I’ve put into this home. I don’t expect to be here for that long. And I’m pretty determined to make sure my next home uses geo-thermal to heat. The return life-time on that is going to be even worse, I know already. Not to mention how I’ll never recover what it cost me to pay for several years of recycling service before the city brought in it’s program. Doing what I’ve done isn’t an entirely rational decision in our current world. Especially because as an individual, my difference isn’t even that significant, I realize. But I look on it as charity. And charity is almost never a rational decision.

        Of course, with a carbon tax in place, that timeline would drop dramatically. So much so that demand for those technologies would go up, creating more suppliers, more competition, driving the price down, and shrinking the time-line even more. This makes it doable for a lot of people.. which makes it more likely that it adds up to significant change. (And also that my next house I might be able to set up properly again much more cheaply)

        A carbon tax has the added bonus that it requires no additional governmental regulation into exactly how my home is configured, what technologies I can and must have in it, or provides a point where increasing the efficiency is no longer worth it, even if it would be of the same cost as not doing so.

        And yeah, if I’m really rich, I can choose to completely ignore any carbon taxation and go for very wasteful ways of spending. That still has two benefits:

        1. The government gets more money which it will hopefully put toward improving environmental conditions or supporting firms that help people attain environmental efficiency.

        2. It lowers the income divide between be and someone who’s more careful with their money/CO2 use.

        However, I put forward that that’s hardly likely to happen for a very simple reason: People who don’t care about wasting money when they don’t have to don’t often wind up rich in the first place.

  8. “And similarly, where is the radiation tax on nuclear power
    producers, and where are the environmental levies on wind and solar
    producers?”

    Kudos to Manning for speaking up about this. But, as was noted at the time either he doesn’t really understand the environmental principle behind a CT, or as dot notes he’s still playing regional politics? Just where is the potential problem on a global and inter-generational scale that nuclear or wind and solar[ those are bizarre inclusions] poses to our collective well being? Ok he has a point about radiation, but since that has some reasonable hope of being addressed by current engineering solutions [at least until something better comes along] it doesn’t require any targetted tax, and is covered in any case by the net effects of a CT, as are the other green industries he mentions. I’m inclined to think dot is right. The old coot is still – to some degree -pinch htting for his home province.

    • Does Preston want carbon emissions as tightly regulated as nuclear material handling?

      What’s good for the goose is good for the (disingenuous) gander.

      • That was kinda funny, wasn’t it.

  9. “It is the communication of the carbon tax concept to the public which I feel was hopelessly bungled.”

    Well, yes it was Mr Manning. But you might want to mention it was also copiously crapped on from a great height by one SJHarper. Or is that all part of the bungling? You’re just to polite to say it out loud?

  10. I don’t trust this guy as far as I can shit.

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