Individual British Columbians are reluctant polluters. We don't want to drive cars or fly in airplanes that spew out CO2. General Motors, Boeing, Bombardier and others provide us the conduits through which we pollute. We really need a program of graduated but aggressive government insistence and support to encourage industry to greenness. We could call the program "Cap and Insist."
Until we are willing to tackle big polluters however, tepid support for a carbon tax makes some sense. Having a carbon tax is like helping remove barnacles from Christopher Columbus's ships; it doesn't do much, but it makes a statement to climate change deniers and their flat earth society ancestors, that we indeed believe that humans have caused global warming and that the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria won't sail off the edge of the Earth.
So, what about B.C.'s carbon tax? If the only way we can avoid insisting that industry take some responsibility for climate change is to institute a carbon tax, it should at least do two things. It should encourage us to use alternate energy sources, and its revenues should fund environmental initiatives.
B.C.'s carbon tax does neither. Revenues from our Tea Party inspired carbon tax go to tax cuts rather than CO2 mitigating initiatives. If carbon tax revenues went directly to fund transit, SkyTrain, or environmental initiatives, the tax might be seen as helpful. Unfortunately, B.C.'s carbon tax is lost in the litany of fee increases, tax burden shifts, and service charges that hit B.C. household budgets like a boxer working the speed bag.
Outrageously, B.C.'s cash starved hospitals and schools are required under B.C.'S carbon tax to buy carbon offsets from business. This year, hospitals, schools, and other public institutions, barely able to operate let alone retrofit facilities, paid big business over $18 million to buy carbon offsets.
Our paying five cents more per litre for gas seems to be having little effect on melting icecaps, droughts in Africa, floods in the prairies, wet Junes in B.C., and tornadoes in the U.S.
Still, a properly conceived carbon tax, although it would likely have little effect on the environment, could be invaluable in funding transportation and environmental initiatives around B.C.
Now where could we possibly get $400,000 for the Nevergreen line?