The B.C. carbon tax shows us why a national one is a bad idea

Author: 01/10/2019

by Kris Sims, B.C. Director.

(This column originally appeared in the national Sun Media newspaper chain)


Politicians are trying to sell a national carbon tax to Canadians this election, but we shouldn’t buy it.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pointing to B.C. as a template for a national carbon tax. But be warned: the B.C. carbon tax is not reducing greenhouse gas emissions and it’s filling up government coffers with taxpayers’ money. It’s a tax grab that is not helping the environment.

B.C.’s emissions have gone up 2.4 percent over the last three years and have increased in five of the last seven years, according to the B.C. government’s own data released this month. In 2017 — the most recent data year — GHG emissions are listed at 64.4 million tonnes, up from 63.6 million tonnes in 2016.

Politicians tell us that we are paying the carbon tax because it will reduce emissions but the government's own records show that’s not happening. What is the point of paying an ever increasing carbon tax when it doesn’t work?

In 2018, the provincial government took in $1.7 billion from B.C. taxpayers through the carbon tax, and it’s planning on taking $2.2 billion from taxpayers by the year 2021, when the carbon tax is jacked up to $50 per tonne.

Politicians also told us that gasoline and diesel vehicle use would drop because of the carbon tax, however the government data again shows that’s not true.

Emissions from gasoline powered cars are up 6.2 percent, pickup truck emissions are up 18.7 percent, and heavy duty gasoline truck emissions are up 10.4 percent over the last three years. When it comes to diesel use, there was a large 47.8 percent jump in emissions from light-duty diesel pickup trucks over the past three years.

Let’s look at how much this carbon tax costs us for everyday life.

At the pumps, the carbon tax costs B.C. drivers about $7 extra to fill their minivans, $11 extra for their pickup trucks, and $19 extra for their diesel super duty pickups.

If a commuter family has a sedan and a pick up truck and fills up once a week, they pay more than $900 extra per year just to get to work and take the kids around.

For a tractor trailer truck – the ones that deliver groceries to grocery stores — filling just one of those diesel tanks costs an extra $48 in carbon taxes. This adds to the cost of everything.

When the carbon tax was first foisted upon British Columbians in 2008, we were told that the tax would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, stop at $30 per tonne, and it would be “revenue neutral” because other tax cuts would offset the carbon tax.

Today, none of that is true. The carbon tax has been hiked up to $40 per tonne. Politicians have dropped the malarkey moniker of “revenue neutral” altogether and the government is just keeping the extra revenue instead of even pretending to offset the carbon tax with other tax cuts. On top of it all, GHG emissions are going up, not down.

The Sierra Club of Canada calls B.C.’s emissions approach a “failure” and it says politicians have been full of “noble rhetoric.”

As Canadians consider carbon taxes, they need to look at the experience in B.C. where this all started. It only makes people here poorer while emissions continue to rise. Don’t fall for it.

Kris Sims is the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.


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For more information call:

Kris Sims, B.C. Director                            Cell: 604-997-1798

Email: [email protected]                     Twitter: @kris_sims

This is a free commentary provided to media outlets and opinion leaders by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF). The CTF is Canada's leading non-partisan citizens' advocacy group fighting for lower taxes, less waste and accountable government. 
Founded in 1990, the CTF has more than 202,000 supporters and seven offices across Canada. 
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