Kris Sims: When BC first launched the carbon tax, it was promised to be revenue neutral, stop at $30 per tonne, and would reduce emissions. Today, none of those things are true.
Carbon taxes are an expensive failure when it comes to reducing emissions
Emissions in British Columbia are going up despite the province having the highest carbon taxes in North America.
Think you’ve read this before? That’s because this keeps happening.
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again while expecting a different result, then British Columbians are being driven crazy by carbon taxes.
The B.C government posted its 2019 emissions data last month and the results aren’t good. Emissions have risen 10 per cent since 2015 and they’ve gone up in five of the last seven years.
Emissions are going up while carbon taxes keep going up, too.
Emissions from SUVs are up six per cent over three years. Over the same span, the numbers for light-duty and heavy-duty diesel transport trucks are up 39 and 15 per cent, respectively. Emissions from railways are up 25 per cent and air transportation has seen an 18 per cent increase.
Put plainly: carbon taxes are an expensive failure in B.C.
Families are paying close to $20 extra in carbon taxes every time they fill up their minivans. The carbon tax on home heating bills often costs more than the natural gas being used.
What was the government’s solution to the rising emissions and the failed carbon taxes?
Higher carbon taxes!
After the data was posted, the B.C. government announced it would plough ahead with meeting or beating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s planned carbon tax hike up to $170 per tonne within the next nine years.
That will get more expensive, fast.
Right now, the first B.C. carbon tax is 10 cents per litre of gasoline. The second carbon tax is a fuel standard regulation that increases the cost of gas by another 16 cents per litre.
By the year 2030, those two combined carbon taxes will cost B.C. drivers more than 50 cents per litre of gasoline.
At that rate, people will pay $39 extra to fill up their minivans and about $58 more to fill up their pick-up trucks due to the carbon taxes. A commuter family in Metro Vancouver area using their minivan and their pick-up truck would pay about $3,458 annually in the carbon taxes.
That’s serious money. That’s about three months’ worth of groceries for a family of four.
That’s just for vehicles and doesn’t include the tax on home heating and the increased cost of trucked food and supplies.
When the carbon tax was first introduced in 2008, British Columbians were told they would get their money back. At first, there was a corresponding income tax cut making it technically revenue neutral. But, by 2012, the B.C. Liberal government was inserting pre-existing and unrelated tax credits into the equation, making it balance out to zero only on paper. Now, any pretense of revenue neutrality is gone.
Meanwhile, emissions are higher now than they were back in 2000. Back then, ‘N Sync was topping the Billboard charts and Alta Vista was the most popular internet search engine.
By 2020, B.C. was supposed to have reduced emissions to 33 per cent below 2007 levels. Instead, emissions are four per cent higher, and carbon taxes are costing taxpayers billions of dollars.
When politicians first launched the carbon tax, they said it would be revenue neutral, that the tax would stop at $30 per tonne and that the carbon tax would reduce emissions.
Today, none of that is true.
The carbon tax is not revenue neutral, it’s $45 per tonne and rising to $170 per tonne, and emissions are going up.
It’s past time to scrap the unaffordable failure of carbon taxes.
Kris Sims is the B.C. Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.