By Letter to the Editor on May 16, 2018.
Jason Kenney’s contention the carbon tax has been an enormous economic burden on Alberta is not supported by recent economic data. According to Statistics Canada real GDP growth for Alberta in 2017 was 4.9 per cent. This was higher than 3.3 per cent for Canada and 2.3 per cent for the United States (according to the U.S. Commerce dept.).
Mr. Kenney overlooks two other relevant economic factors. One is the positive economic effect of investment in green technologies and in projects to reduce greenhouse emissions. The second is the cost due to increased CO2 in the atmosphere causing environmental and climate change. These range from costs due to severe weather (example — 50 inches of rain in Houston in three days) to costs to deal with changes in the environment such as the pine beetle infestation in Alberta (Due in part to not enough cold weather at the right times of the year). There are many others.
To evaluate economic impact at an individual level the cost of the carbon tax can be approximated. At the 2018 CO2 cost of $30/tonne, the added cost to a litre of gasoline is 6.73 cents. This results in an extra $135/year ($0.37/day) for 2,000 litres (Gas usage at 20,000 km/year at fuel efficiency of 10 litres/100 km). For natural gas, the added cost is $1.517/GJ. This results in an extra $13.65 for a cold winter month ($0.45/day) based on 9 GJ consumption for an average sized house. Low income Albertans receive rebates to help pay for these. Governments could also reduce other taxes, such as personal income tax, to offset these costs (One of the suggestions in the Fraser Institute article Realities of Carbon Pricing in Canada and Beyond).
Mr. Kenney also uses the argument that Canada doesn’t need to reduce CO2 emissions because it only produces 1.6 per cent of the world’s total emissions. If this logic was applied to all the countries in the world that produce less CO2 than Canada it would account for roughly 30 per cent of the total world emissions. Is Mr. Kenney saying that these countries shouldn’t reduce emissions and leave it all to the countries that emit the other 70 per cent, which includes China, the U.S., India, Russia and Japan?
Finally, there is an aspect of climate change that Mr. Kenney is in agreement with scientific consensus. As reported in a May 8 article in the Medicine Hat News, Mr. Kenney was asked if he thinks climate change was man made to which he replied there are “very significant anthropogenic causes of climate change.” Interesting choice of words, why not just say yes?
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