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LORRIE GOLDSTEIN: Trudeau’s carbon tax raises prices but doesn’t cap emissions

Gas prices on P.E.I. went up 3.4 cents today.
The Ontario government said it will put mandatory stickers on the gas pumps, pointing out that the federal carbon tax has already raised gasoline prices by 4.4 cents per litre this year, rising to 11 cents per litre in 2022. - 123RF Stock Photo

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government announced Monday it’s going to remind Ontarians what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax is costing them every time they fill up at the gas pump and get their home heating bill.

The first will be accomplished through mandatory stickers on the pumps, pointing out Trudeau’s carbon tax has already raised gasoline prices by 4.4 cents per litre this year, rising to 11 cents per litre in 2022.

The second will point out the increased costs on residential natural gas heating bills — 3.91 cents per cubic metre this year rising to 9.79 cents in 2022.

Trudeau says a rebate system accompanying his tax will leave 80% of Ontario households better off financially.

But that’s almost impossible to verify, in part because in addition to directly hiking the cost of gasoline and natural gas, Trudeau’s tax indirectly increases the cost of almost all goods and services.

What Trudeau also can’t tell Ontarians is how effective his carbon tax will be at lowering industrial greenhouse gas emissions linked to man-made climate change, the ostensible purpose of his tax.

That’s because of the central flaw of carbon taxes — governments imposing them have no idea how much the tax will lower emissions because the tax doesn’t put a cap on them.

Figuring out the relationship between higher taxes and lower consumption is a game of hit and miss for governments.

We do know from experience in the handful of jurisdictions that have imposed carbon taxes that Trudeau’s carbon tax of $20 per tonne of emissions this year, rising to $50 per tonne in 2022, won’t come close to fulfilling the commitments he made to lower Canada’s emissions by signing the United Nations’ Paris climate accord in 2015.

The feds have been told by their own experts that Trudeau’s carbon tax would have to be $100 per tonne next year (not $30), eventually rising to $200 to $300 per tonne, to achieve his targets.

The UN says governments around the world will have to impose carbon taxes ranging from $135 per ton to $5,500 per ton by 2030, to avoid catastrophic warming.

Small wonder Trudeau avoids talking about how high he’ll raise his carbon tax if he wins the Oct. 21 election.

The government’s studies say even if Trudeau does everything he’s promised between now and 2030. Canada will still miss Trudeau’s goal of reducing our emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, by 79 megatonnes.

That would be the equivalent of shutting down Canada’s electricity sector within 11 years.

Trudeau has already abandoned his 2020 target to reduce emissions to 17% below 2005 levels, which would mean cutting them by 96 Mt by next year, the equivalent of shutting down the electricity sector plus almost a quarter of the agriculture sector in one year.

This is all utterly impossible.

Despite having a carbon tax since 2008, B.C. has consistently failed to meet its reduction targets.

Norway has had a carbon tax since 1991, but government researchers concluded years ago it has only had a minor impact on reducing emissions.

Finally, because federal and provincial taxes on gasoline account for about one-third of the retail price of gas, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimates Ontarians already pay an effective carbon tax of about $190 per tonne of emissions.

Which many have no choice but to pay because of where they live, their occupation, or the lack of a viable public transit alternative.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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