Trudeau’s carbon tax isn’t about the climate

by Lorrie Goldstein

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax (aka price) isn’t a climate change plan.

It’s a climate marketing plan.

Its purpose isn’t to address man-made climate change by reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic global warming.

It’s to win next year’s election against Andrew Scheer and theConservatives.

Trudeau’s scheme will not do what he says it will do.

It will not, despite his claims, meet, along with other measures like more spending on public transit — the commitment he made to the United Nations in the 2015 Paris climate accord to reduce Canada’s emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Andrew Scheer.

Ditto his 2020 target of reducing emissions to 17% below 2005 levels.

Not even the UN, a Trudeau fan, believes he’s on track to reach either target — which used to be Stephen Harper’s— unless he’s willing to spend billions of taxpayers’ dollars buying carbon credits on fraud-ridden carbon markets.

But even if Trudeau hit those targets, it wouldn’t make any difference because the UN now says emission cuts have to be much deeper than those in the Paris accord.

And even if Trudeau hit these new targets, it wouldn’t make any difference.

Trudeau admitted that on the Quebec talk show, Tout Le Monde En Parle in October, when he said there was no point to making Canada’s emission cuts tougher because:“Even if Canada stopped everything tomorrow and the other countries didn’t have any solutions, it wouldn’t make a big difference.”

Except “the other countries,” collectively, don’t have “any solutions.”

Global emissions last year rose 1.4% to a record 32.5 billion tonnes, with this year’s total expected to be higher.

Canada, responsible for 1.6% of global emissions, reduced our emissions by 1.4% in 2016, far short of what Trudeau needs to fulfill even his Paris commitment.

So what is Trudeau’s plan really about?

It’s a political strategy to defeat Scheer and the Conservatives in 2019, who claim, absurdly, that they can meet Trudeau’s emission targets without a national carbon tax.

Trudeau’s appealing to the universe of potential Liberal voters who share the attitudes described by renowned climate change journalist George Monbiot, in his 2006 book, Heat, How to Stop the Planet from Burning.

While not referring to Canada specifically, Monbiot described these types of voters in the industrialized world as those who, “demand that the government acts, while hoping that it doesn’t”, who “wish our governments to pretend to act”, so they “get the moral satisfaction of saying what we know to be right, without the discomfort of doing it.”

“Political parties in most rich nations have already recognized this,” Monbiot writes. “They know that we want tough targets, but that we also want those targets to be missed. They know that we will grumble about their failure to curb climate change, but that we will not take to the streets. They know that nobody ever rioted for austerity.”

That’s why Trudeau portrays his carbon pricing scheme as a method of making more people better off financially than worse off, because higher-income Canadians who consume above average levels of fossil fuel energy will subsidize lower income Canadians who use less.

Except an ineffective carbon pricing plan like Trudeau’s is really just a wealth redistribution scheme.

To effectively lower emissions to meet even his Paris targets, Trudeau would have to raise Canada’s carbon price immediately to the $100 to $200 range per tonne of emissions, and much higher in future years, not $20 next year rising to $50 in 2022.

Trudeau’s plan is a cynical political strategy that plays on the guilt of potential Liberal voters, while condemning Scheer and the Conservatives as climate deniers.

Except both Trudeau and Scheer are climate deniers.

Neither of their plans, and we haven’t yet seen Scheer’s, will reduce emissions effectively.

Trudeau’s comes with a higher price tag to lower emissions a little more than Scheer’s, but neither will have a meaningful impact on global emissions.

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