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« China's carbon dragon… | Home | U.S. coal power boom … »

North America gets its first carbon tax

28 02 08 - 22:51


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North America gets its first carbon tax







By Brad Knickerbocker








Taxing carbon-spewing machines to slow global warming certainly has an eat-your-peas aspect to it: "Trade your SUV for a hybrid or we'll make you pay!"

Then again, tax policy can have a huge and positive impact on individual and group behavior. In part, high cigarette taxes explain why rates of smoking among Americans have plummeted.



North America gets its first carbon tax





Taxing carbon-spewing machines to slow global warming certainly has an eat-your-peas aspect to it: "Trade your SUV for a hybrid or we'll make you pay!"

Then again, tax policy can have a huge and positive impact on individual and group behavior. In part, high cigarette taxes explain why rates of smoking among Americans have plummeted.

The Canadian province of British Columbia last week became the first jurisdiction in North America to enact a consumer-based tax on carbon emissions. The Vancouver Sun reported:

"The move was seen as a huge win by environmentalists, who depicted B.C. as a leader in taking action on climate change. 'I think this is a landmark decision in North America as far as government addressing global warming,' said Ian Bruce of the Suzuki Foundation. 'The B.C. government has decided to use one of the most powerful incentives at its disposal to reduce pollution,' he added...."

The goal is to raise US$1.75 billion over the next three years by taxing virtually all fossil fuels, including gasoline, diesel, natural gas, coal, propane, and home-heating fuel. It starts in July at $10 per ton of carbon emissions, rising to $30 per ton by 2012. Consumers will pay an extra 2.4 cents a liter (9 cents per US gallon) this year for gasoline, rising to 7.2 cents by 2012. Home heating oil would rise 2.8 cents a liter (10.6 cents per US gallon), going up to 8.3 cents per liter over the same period. The Globe and Mail (subscription required) reported:

"'It has been a dramatic turn, I think, for this province with this budget to say we're not just going to be talking about climate action,' said Finance Minister Carole Taylor. She said the strategy is to 'tax something that we know is bad for us,' and use the revenue to stimulate wide social change by providing incentives for people and businesses to become more energy efficient."

The plan is meant to be "revenue neutral," meaning that overall taxes won't climb. To compensate, corporate and personal income tax rates will drop, and low-income families will receive an annual tax credit of $100 per adult and $30 per child. To jump start the program, every resident will get a one-time payment of $100 this year. The Canadian Press reported:

"[British Columbia] Premier Gordon Campbell said he won't try to pressure any other provinces to take action on climate change but he hopes B.C. serves as an example. He said by giving British Columbians tax breaks on things such as fuel-efficient cars and energy-efficient appliances, British Columbians are being given real choices on battling climate change. 'It'll drive investment in the economy,' Campbell said."

The new carbon tax is not seen as a panacea. It's expected to help cut B.C.'s greenhouse-gas emissions by about 5 percent by 2020, but that's well short of the government's goal of a 33 percent reduction. The Times Colonist in Victoria, B.C., quotes University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver as saying that the tax will send an important message:

"To me, what's important is the actual signal to the market that carbon is going to have a price. And that price is going up, not down. And that, in itself, is enough to do a paradigm shift as to how we do stuff."

So far, the rest of Canada is not following British Columbia's lead. Ontario's strategy, for example, includes a commitment to shut down the province's coal-fired generating plants. United Press International quotes Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty as saying:

"We're doing something differently here in Ontario that suits our economy and the direction that we're pursuing...."

Some federal officials in Canada are concerned that individual plans by provinces could be more costly and less efficient than a unified approach. The National Post reported:

"'(Canadians) don't want to pay more for cars, they don't want to pay more for other things because the governments can't get their act together and co-operate,' [Finance Minister Jim Flaherty] said."

That's essentially the argument the Bush administration has been using to block California and other states from regulating vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. Used tags: , , , , ,

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North America gets its first carbon tax

Thursday 28 February 2008 at 10:51 pm


Send this article to a friend









North America gets its first carbon tax







By Brad Knickerbocker








Taxing carbon-spewing machines to slow global warming certainly has an eat-your-peas aspect to it: "Trade your SUV for a hybrid or we'll make you pay!"

Then again, tax policy can have a huge and positive impact on individual and group behavior. In part, high cigarette taxes explain why rates of smoking among Americans have plummeted. more

China's carbon dragon

Tuesday 26 February 2008 at 11:59 pm


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China's carbon dragon




Try this statistic on for size: If China's economy continues to grow
at its current pace, and the Asian giant doesn't cut its rate of
energy use, by 2030 it could be emitting as much carbon into the
atmosphere as the entire world does today.

And here's another: As you read this, China is bringing on line
coal-fired power plants - major sources of greenhouse-gas emissions
- at the mind-boggling rate of two per week. more

Soaring energy prices bad news for the economy

Thursday 21 February 2008 at 11:50 pm


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Soaring energy prices bad news for the economy






By Ron Scherer





New York - Once again, concern is rising about the price of oil and gasoline.

On Tuesday, the price of oil hit a record $100.01 a barrel, up some $14 in eight trading days. It's the second time since late December that the price has hovered at the $100-a-barrel level.

The sharp rise is already showing up at the gas pump: Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the price of gasoline rose 4 cents a gallon, reports GasPriceWatch.com. Since Feb. 9, gasoline prices nationally are up 10 cents a gallon, for an average price of $3.05 a gallon. more

Internet helps Americans save more energy every year

Tuesday 19 February 2008 at 1:13 pm


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Internet helps Americans save more energy every year




By Mark Clayton





The rate at which the United States is becoming more energy-efficient has soared since 1995, when the computer-based Internet and communications revolution began soaking into US society.

That conclusion - from a groundbreaking study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) last week - stands in sharp contrast to recent concerns that the computer backbone of the Internet was gobbling up huge amounts of energy. more

Lakes Mead and Powell could run dry by 2021

Saturday 16 February 2008 at 2:18 pm


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Lakes Mead and Powell could run dry by 2021




By Peter N. Spotts






Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which supply water and power to millions in the American Southwest, stand a 50 percent chance of running dry by 2021 unless dramatic changes take place in how the region uses water, according to a new study.

Causes include growing population, rising demand for Colorado River water, which feeds both lakes, and global warming, according to scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., who conducted the study. more

US business community urged to support Green economic expansion

Monday 11 February 2008 at 3:56 pm


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US business community urged to support Green economic expansion




AEN News






New York - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was in Chicago Friday to urge hundreds of business leaders there to help usher in a new era of 'green economics', where addressing the problem of climate change becomes not a cost but an opportunity for growth.

"As businesspeople, you will appreciate the power of markets and innovation to change the world. In this, the UN is your partner," said Ban in an address Thursday evening to the Economic Club of Chicago. more