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Discussion > Raff’s Carbon Tax

Although I don't see the need for a "carbon tax" (I do wish it was called a CO2 Tax, since that's what it is/would be), I'm interested in Phil C's example. However, I note this:

"“Revenue-neutral” by law, the policy requires equivalent cuts to other taxes. In practice, the province has cut $760-million more in income and other taxes than needed to offset carbon tax revenue."

I would like to know what the state of BC's public finances is, both compared to those Canadian states which don't have a CO2 tax, and also relative to its own position before it introduced it. Residents and businesses are bound to be satisfied with tax cuts, especially if this enables them to be better off despite the higher costs imposed on them by a CO2 tax, but is it financially sustainable? Is BC going heavily (or more heavily, given that most countries and states seem to be in the red) into debt?

Jun 20, 2016 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Hodgson

"They were not given an emission level that could not be achieved." they were in the US. In the time they were given and with all the other demands on a car.

They wrote software that adjusted the car to pass the emissions level restriction if it thought it was being tested. So when the software was reducing emissions it was, according to you, doing something that could not in fact be achieved. Logic failure, or what?

Jun 20, 2016 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

So.... yet more taxes. What good logic, especially from one who claims not to be left-wing. Now, when does applying yet another tax stop? When taxation ensures the common man ends up in permanent penury? Or does it continue until taxation exceeds income? One thing for sure – those who apply the tax will make sure that they have no need for it to punish them; after all, their tax liabilities are looked after by the tax-payer.

Why not accept that this idea is a busted flush; human emissions have little, if anything, to do with climate change. Unless you are looking for yet another excuse to tax, taxation as proposed is utterly pointless, and is highly unlikely to have any publically-admitted intended effect (though it may well have the privately-desired intended effect).

Jun 20, 2016 at 4:13 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

How do you measure domestic emissions?
How would charges on industrial emissions not be passed on to the customer, hitting the poorest hardest? As food production is an emissions producer, CO2, particulates, nitrates and not least methane from both meat and vegetable production. Would food production be exempt?


Jun 20, 2016 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Raff, the cars could reduce one sort of emissions or another but not both together. So the 'fix' for the particulate emissions reduces the MPG and drivers aren't happy. The software makes the engine produce low particulates when it's in testing mode because the MPG tests are a different style of useage. Drivers would notice a lower MPG but not the particulates so that was the normal mode.

If they'd just been turning it on and off for no reason, that would have been evil.

Jun 20, 2016 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Mark Hodgson
Isn't reducing personal taxation one of the aims of many political parties as they believe that it encourages growth and gives people the choice on how they spend their money?

Jun 20, 2016 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Phil Clarke
Looking at official Canadian data here which shows emissions for years 1990, 2005,2014 I would say that Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec have all done better that British Colombia by getting "greenhouse gas" emissions below 1990 levels which British Colombia has failed to do.

Jun 20, 2016 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I don't wish to divert this thread as it will quite interesting learning how this tax is going to work.

However do the testing regulations that VW "rigged" say that the levels must be achieved on the road or just for the test? If the latter then VW did what they were asked. Passing a driving test doesn't make you a good driver just proves that, on a particular day, you could do all the tasks set by the examiner.

Jun 20, 2016 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Raff, full facts are awaited, but it is near certain that Europes biggesf car maker, VW, had a strong jnvolvement in preparing the legislation implemented by the EU.

The whole thing has been a colossal farce, and nothing has been achieved.

Any redundancies in manufacturing are going to hit Volkswagon/Audi in Germany, SEAT in Spain, Skoda in Czech Republic etc. Wikip lists 27 countries involved in manufacturing for VW.

VW obviously did their market research about what people wanted from their car, and delivered it. I can't see the Green Blob, EU or VW coming out of this very well. There won't be any winners, just losers. What is a Carbon Tax supposed to achieve?

Jun 20, 2016 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I don't know SandyS but part of the problem came from trying to satisfy multiple countries. The EU had gone full stupid on CO2, whereas the US was wisely still more worried about urban pollution. It would have been a red flag to have the same car with different MPG and emissions levels on either side of the pond. I'm not even sure the cars break EU rules at all in either mode. However the EU has now decided that particulates are important after all and are probably going to tax diesel higher.

Jun 20, 2016 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Tiny, they clearly could reach the emission standard if they wanted to, so it wasn't an unrealistic target. They chose not to. Maybe they worried about selling as many cars if they reduced the spec in other ways to meet the limit (lower MPG perhaps, as you say). Whatever, they chose their own path deliberately.

Sandy, some costs will be passed on, some will be absorbed, some will disappear in product or service redesign. The more the latter occurs the better the tax is working. There's no reason to exclude food production. The dividend is intended to compensate.

Jun 20, 2016 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

So, you’re telling us that the emissions target could be hit, but only by increasing the overall consumption. Can you not see the ridiculous irony in this plan? This appears to be the Green Dream – we will save this planet by destroying it faster!

Jun 20, 2016 at 5:59 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Well RR has got the idea but Raff seems to have lost track of the issue. Reducing CO2. Nobody claimed the engineers didn't cheat and I'm sure that it was to sell more cars. The issue is whether you can have your cake and eat it. Can you maintain all the other things we want from cars AND reduce CO2. Apparently not. So what gives?

Jun 20, 2016 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

VW supplied the cars the public wanted. They wanted MPH and MPG, and the EU Sticker confirmed it.

How many people have bought a fridge or washing machine based on the sticker saying how few polar bears would be simmered to death?

Are the claims on those stickers ever tested independently?

Jun 20, 2016 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I know that fridges and washing machines don't last anywhere near as long. I know that the government will want all those embarassing diesels off the road sooner than they needed to be and sod the emissions.

Jun 20, 2016 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

"Independent UK and German government testing has not uncovered any evidence of manufacturers other than the VW Group using defeat devices in emissions tests, but it has highlighted the gap between official laboratory test results and real-world emissions figures."

From reading this I get the idea that the cars met the letter of the requirements but didn't meet the spirit of the rules. Only VW used a cheat device. It doesn't say how the others achieved the feat.

Jun 20, 2016 at 7:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I understand that Mitsubishi "cheated" in Japan by over-inflating tyres. They were discovered by Toyota who used the same Mitsubishi engines but couldn't achieve the the same economy. They asked Mitsubishi "What are we doing differently?" and opened a can of worms.

This may be an amusing story and not exactly what happened.

Jun 20, 2016 at 8:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

So businesses will be taxed and refunded? In the same way as VAT? In which case why bother?

I'm interested in how agriculture can redesign its products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without using genetically modified variants, this is a bit of a no-no in the UK. Frankenfoods is the expression used by Environmentalists with a great deal of success.

Jun 20, 2016 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Sandy, why should business be refunded?

some costs will be passed on, some will be absorbed, some will disappear in product or service redesign.
I'm interested in how agriculture can redesign its products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

So now you know the meaning of 'some'.

Jun 20, 2016 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Raff, how will you stop CO2 and ultimately jobs being exported? How can you prove that a Chinese product isn't CO2 free, if it says it is?

Jun 20, 2016 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Raff, if no money was taken, no refunds would be required by anyone. No one would notice any difference either.

The Polar Bears are increasing in numbers, and the Sahara is Greening up. Fossil fuels aren't running out for the foreseeable future. People are waking up to the fact that Carbon Taxation is a scam, as they are ripped off, for no scientific reason at all.

Jun 20, 2016 at 10:53 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Tiny, all imports would be hit by a tariff (the amount depending for example upon estimated origin country emissions per unit of GDP plus something for shipping) unless the origin country could show it had an equivalent CO2 tax regime.

Jun 21, 2016 at 2:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

So China and India would have no problem selling goods because they still have small per capita CO2 footprints, even if the products themselves were produced in exactly the same way. Even the UK would be laughing when it came to exporting to Canada or the US. So I repeat the qurestion, how do you stop jobs going abroad?

Jun 21, 2016 at 3:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

So now your Emissions Tax doesn't actually help the poor, revenues are taken into the tax pot to be spent as government sees fit not on the poor, everything gets more expensive and it makes life more costly for the poor by putting the costs of energy and food which is where most of their income goes. As we've seen with Phil Clarke's example of British Colombia it doesn't actually work either.

As TinyCO2 says by making the costs of goods higher jobs will be exported to those countries with lower manufacturing costs. The history of manufacture of the Barbie Doll should show you how manufacturing follows low costs. The article is a bit old but watch where Barbies are made next to get a hint as to which country/region is about to expand its economy.

Jun 21, 2016 at 7:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Sandy S asked me:

"Isn't reducing personal taxation one of the aims of many political parties as they believe that it encourages growth and gives people the choice on how they spend their money?"

Yes, that is the stated objective of some political parties, though they rarely if ever achieve it. The Conservative Party has made a big thing about reducing direct taxes (income tax for individuals, corporation tax for companies) but it's always achieved by increasing indirect taxes (taxes on spending) instead. The net effect of such policies is to hurt poor people harder than rich people, since poor people spend a greater proportion of their income in a non-discretionary way.

However, I do grudgingly give the current Government full marks for significantly increasing the point at which individuals pay income tax at all, thereby taking millions out of income tax altogether. This must have ameliorated significantly the regressive effects of increasing indirect taxation.

The big point of course is that we need to raise enough tax to pay our bills, and the big question is which taxes we use. As things stand, Osborne (a supposedly austerity Chancellor) has in 6 years borrowed almost as much money as all his predecessors combined (and that includes the huge amounts borrowed to fight the Seven Years War, the French Revolutionary/Napoleonic Wars and both World Wars). The national debt continues to rise (c £1.7trn now?) and the ongoing annual deficit fails to fall as promised (still c £70bn), so we're in one heck of a mess.

Jun 21, 2016 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark Hodgson