Climate Change Week: Sackville audience hears about the benefits of carbon taxes

Professor Brad Walters and MLA Megan Mitton at the Vogue Cinema

Memramcook-Tantramar MLA Megan Mitton says she wishes New Brunswick’s Conservative government would stop wasting taxpayers’ money going to court to fight federal carbon taxes and take action instead to avert the worst effects of climate change.

During a panel discussion Monday evening at Sackville’s Vogue Cinema, Mitton said the burden of proof against carbon taxes should rest with those who oppose them.

“This [putting a price on carbon] is proven to be one of the things we can do,” she said. “This is one of the most efficient ways to get our emissions down.”

Mitton also wondered why opponents of carbon taxes aren’t proposing an alternative.

“If there’s a better way forward, I’m all for it,” she said. “I’m not seeing a better plan. I’m not seeing an alternative.”

Politics and economics

Mitton made her comments during one of a series of events organized by the local group, EOS Eco-Energy, to mark climate change week.

Mount Allison Geography and Environment Professor Brad Walters, who was the other participant on the panel, said the fight over carbon taxes is primarily political, not economic.

“The idea of carbon taxes emerged predominantly out of mainstream economics and [they] were actively supported by conservative politicians more so than those on the left,” Walters said.

“Over time, the strange irony, if you want to call it that, particularly in North America, is that as conservatives have abandoned any commitment at all to appropriate climate policy, the centre and left have moved over and embraced carbon taxes as one of the instruments that’s key to moving the economy away from fossil fuel dependence,” he added.

“Carbon taxes are administratively simple to implement,” Walters said. “They are economically efficient, there’s virtually unanimous consensus among economists that carbon taxes are probably the most efficient policy instrument available to facilitate this transition away from fossil fuels to alternatives.”

 Consumer rebates

Both Mitton and Walters agreed the federal carbon tax that will take effect on April 1, will actually benefit most New Brunswickers because they will get more money back in rebates than they will pay in taxes.

The federal government estimates, for example, that a New Brunswick family of four will pay an average of $207 this year, much of it through an extra 4.42 cent-a-litre tax on gasoline, while receiving a rebate of $256 in 2019. (See CBC report: How the carbon tax will affect you in 2019.)

Mitton and Walters suggested, however, that because consumers pay the tax upfront and receive the rebate later, they have an immediate incentive to cut down on burning the fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.

Mitton argued that implementing a price on carbon to reduce emissions will be cheaper than doing nothing.

“Climate change is really expensive,” she said, adding that governments and individuals are already paying more because of extreme weather that causes catastrophic flooding, for example.

Mitton said she had a meeting a few months ago with provincial transportation officials who said that wilder winter weather has increased the costs of keeping the roads clear.

“We can’t talk about this in a vacuum,” she said, adding that doing nothing is not an option.

“It’s much more expensive and it’s just sticking our heads in the sand,” Mitton said.

For more information from the federal government on how carbon taxes will affect New Brunswick, click here.

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16 Responses to Climate Change Week: Sackville audience hears about the benefits of carbon taxes

  1. Kelly Alder says:

    I’m tired of the left and their agendas telling the rest of us what we need. Sure will be a negative on at least 3 gas sellers in Sackville and will definitely cost more employment for our little small business. But MLA Mitton turned her back on our business in the past. No surprise here. God help us if the Greens ever get more power. Everyone who chooses to work for a living will forever pay the price for their hypocrisy.

    • Geoff Martin says:

      Well, I find it a laugh that such a mild measure is provoking so much opposition. This proposal is largely symbolic, since gas prices could go up 5 cents permanently based on the New York price, benefitting gas retailers and oil companies, without government action and without a rebate! Governments have been influencing behavior for decades, including *promoting* car travel by building four-lane highways using general revenues rather than user-pay. Time for that to end. To repeat Megan Mitton’s request, please tell us, what do you propose to address climate change? If your answer is “nothing’ please say so. Would you prefer stronger measures, like a ban on new gas-powered vehicles by, say, 2030 or 2040? No, I didn’t think so. The longer we wait, the more disruptive the required measures (or outcomes) will be.

      • Shawn Mesheau says:

        Geoff, to a lot of people this is not a mild measure.
        It depends on a person’s circumstances and what they can afford.
        The MLA states when consumers pay up front and have to wait for a rebate it will encourage an immediate incentive to cut down on burning fossil fuels.
        For many folks in our rural riding we have no choice but to work outside our small towns. So commuting is a must, and although one may try to car share differing shifts and jobs will not allow for those car shares to happen.
        I commuted for 12 years, I car-shared for some of it but as people’s job requirements change, car sharing is not always an option.
        I was lucky to find work back in town but now will likely have to begin commuting again as that job has been eliminated.
        When decisions of this nature are made by politicians, all regions cannot be painted with one brush.
        Forcing a tax does not provide buy in and actually pairing climate change with a tax is likely hurting efforts to address climate change. Why, because consumers who have no choice but to burn fossil fuels to be able to provide for their families are looking at this as a burden, not something that will help. They see the word tax not I’m helping the climate.
        Also small business in border communities like ours face challenges when a neighboring province has different regulations creating either a consumer win or loss depending what side of the border you live on due to government policy.
        The federal government have made it look like they were giving the authority to each province to deal with carbon emissions or else, shows they really have lost touch with the different regions within the country.
        So here is my suggestion, a regional approach to reducing carbon emissions. The 3 Maritime provinces coming together to address energy needs, economic development, making trade easier between their respective provinces and developing infrastructure and transportation options that support everyone not just those living in a metro area.
        Our needs in the Maritimes and our way of life are different then BC, Western Canada and Central Canada.
        We have to learn to adapt in our own way that fits our way of life and our regional economy.

        More info from Bruce Wark: Thanks for your comment Shawn. I did not put this in my piece, but the federal government says residents in rural N.B. will get bigger carbon tax rebates. Here’s an online iPolitics piece that explains more

      • Kelly Alder says:

        Well just so you know we don’t see any increase if the price goes up on the nyse?! We make a maximum (Gov’t dictated) of no more than 5.5 cents per litre. And we haven’t seen that kind of margin in the 7 years we’ve owned this business. All we stated is this will affect our business as we are so close to the NS gas stations. And I beg you to argue that. I know when we are a few tenths higher, it affects our sales. I wonder how gov’t can give money to those who don’t own a vehicle or travel for work etc.? How will giving more money to people than they will take in work? Seems like a way to make the majority of people think it’s not a bad plan. But I’m not the political or environment expert, all I‘m trying to keep a business open and people employed.

  2. Kelly Alder says:

    For a good read look up this article that was a December 2018 story in the national post.

    Philip Cross: StatCan just exposed how worthless ‘green’ industries are to Canada’s economy

  3. Wendy Alder says:

    Great that taxpayers get a rebate, what about the small businesses struggling to stay afloat? A carbon tax of 4.42 cents per litre plus 15%hst will mean 5.08 cents per litre. This means gas stations on the NB/NS border will no longer be competitive unless the NS government does the same….

    Also the rebate cheque goes to EVERYONE so why does that make sense?

    • SAB says:

      Because everyone will not be paying the same amount as a result of the tax the net effect is that those who emit more will pay more, those who emit less will have actually received more than they pay.
      Gas prices have already gone up in NS as a result of their cap and trade system:
      It would be fair to question why the NS plan was approved despite it resulting in a much lower increase to the cost of gas than the Federal plan. Implementing a similar plan or even participating in the NS plan was (and probably still is) an option for NB.

      • Carbon tax is theft .. Canada is a carbon sink .. … the government are working with technocrats to re-distribute the wealth of the citizens.. instead of an uprising in this region we have a bunch of dirty dogs rolling over in submission to global governance/sustainable development and all those people have names .. thanks Bruce.. you’re work is outstanding and thorough and gives me the intel I need to do my job. Recent event in Alberta with Dr. Patrick Moore provided by Prof. John Robson provides some balance to the discussion with an eye to some solutions… .. hope you don’t hold back this comment as well Bruce.. I’ve been keeping track of all the censorship you have done to my comments.

        Note from Bruce Wark: I do not post comments that contain personal (ad hominem) attacks against other named individuals. I’m publishing this one because it does not contain such personal attacks. What it does contain, however, is an apparent assertion on your part that those who do believe in climate change are “a bunch of dirty dogs.” Patrick Moore himself is more restrained, but only a bit more. He asserts again and again and again in this video that scientists who warn about climate change or who study its effects on coral reefs, for example, are motivated solely by their desire to get billions of dollars in government grants. But what about the support Moore himself receives from the powerful industries he defends?

        Good journalists learn not to attribute motive — in this case to the thousands of scientists whose studies and views form a worldwide consensus, for example, on the causes and effects of climate change. And I’m not attributing a greedy motive to Moore either. He appears to be quite sincere and seems to believe his own claims, but that does not make him right and everyone else wrong.

  4. Rima Azar says:

    Why are we penalizing ourselves and our purchasing power with a tax when (1) Canada is not even amongst the most polluting countries of this planet? China must be laughing at us… India or Russia too maybe?; (2) Will it really make a concrete difference or is it just meant to make us feel good to be doing something?; and (3) As citizens, we have no choice but to use the available sources of energy as better energy sources are not developed yet. The last time, I checked cars were still mostly using gas and airplanes are still all running on fuel.

    Seriously, I do not understand the concept of this tax. Why are we taking something away if something will be given back later (if we assume that the refund would be provided back properly, hopefully not using a system similar to Phoenix 😊)?

    Why don’t we try to learn from Australia or France? Australia ended up abolishing this tax. Why did it do so? Is it working better without it? Or not? What lessons can we learn from Australians who replaced this tax with an “emissions-reduction-fund”, which provides “incentives to businesses, farmers, land owners who adopt new practices and technologies to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions”.

    Why don’t focus our energy on funding more research on renewable energy? Or fostering projects like the construction or certification of green buildings that adopt environmental parameters allowing people to eventually benefit from natural resources of energy. Here is an example from a highly polluted yet resourceful country (e.g., Lebanese Chapter of the World Green Building Council):

    This being said, I like the suggestion of Mr. Meshau of the Maritime provinces coming together to develop one regional plan of action about climate change. This would perhaps help address the crying concern of small business owners on the border of Nova Scotia like Ms. Alder.

    • ADB says:

      “What lessons can we learn from Australia?”

      Australia is the poster child for climate induced ecological disaster. It has managed to be on fire and underwater at the same time! Temperatures as high as 48.9C recorded in the last few weeks, as well as rainfall levels 400% higher than normal (1257.0m in 10 days!). Birds and bats were dropping dead out of the sky from the heat. Millions of fish suffocated from lack oxygen due to the warm water and the flooding killed scores of cattle and ruined thousands of homes.

      There is a lesson in there somewhere.

      • Rima Azar says:

        Dear ADB:

        Maybe we can learn what not to do if we end up introducing this tax or… ideally, learn that an additional tax may not be the greatest idea after all? Look at what is happening in France too.

        I hope we can also learn from them that we can grow our economy by taking other alternative measures of greenhouse-gas reduction?

        I agree with your description of the environmental tragedy in Australia. It is heartbreaking.

        Of note, despite the climate change challenges that Australia faces, especially when it comes to animal or plant life or the agriculture sector, their economy seems to be doing great (surely better than ours).

        Check for year 2014 (the year the carbon tax was repealed, I believe):

        And Nov 2018, that is 4 years later:

        Maybe the difference between Australia and Canada is that they may be more pragmatic than us in general, especially when it comes to integrating climate change efficient policies into their economy…. Instead of always shooting their economy in the foot?

    • SAB says:

      I would hardly call Australia spending billions of taxpayer dollars to pay landowners not to clear vegetation or to plant vegetation and landfills to collect and burn methane (that would have been economically viable without the “emissions reduction fund”) efficient or pragmatic.
      “national emissions, which fell between 2012 and 2014 under the carbon price scheme introduced by Labor and the Greens and abolished by the Coalition, are tracking upwards year-on-year. A thinktank analysis late last year found Australia was the only wealthy country where emissions from energy combustion were at a record high.”

      “Why are we taking something away if something will be given back later”
      If you don’t understand the concept it really surprises me how vehemently you seem to oppose it. The rebate will be consistent across households but the amount that they actually pay will differ – so the net costs will be greater for households that emit more.

  5. Rima Azar says:

    Dear SAB:

    I had to google the word *vehemently* (English is neither my first nor my second language :)). I do not think I oppose the carbon tax “vehemently”, as you wrote. I am just questioning it. In our days and times, this is sin, it seems. Well, as a reply, I can say that maybe because you are too passionate about the topic yourself, you project on me this passion. I simply try to use my brain (= rationality) in life when I read the news.

    Like you, I absolutely think we need to do something for our climate. Should it be by paying another tax necessarily? Could it be done differently? These are my questions, as a citizen.

    Ask Québec citizens how much they have been paying for their gas over the past years? Are they satisfied? Is it working? Is their green plan a good one? If yes or if not, what can we learn from them?

  6. Percy Best says:

    It is so disappointing that the Tantramar Marshes, and the uplands on the New Brunswick side of our provincial border, have not yet been utilized for wind turbine farms . There have been many proposals but sadly none of them were ever accepted by Fredericton. It is one of the prime locations in the Maritimes and it is so sad to see it not being developed like it is over on the Nova Scotia side. Maybe if the Provincial Green Party had only picked the Conservatives to cuddle up with, instead of the Liberals, then construction of renewable energy projects would possibly be front row center.

    • Percy — I don’t think we need a windfarm in the marshes… what we could use however is Energy East Pipeline. Have noted your fondness for windfarms however and find it interesting that you think they are a great idea – they’re crony capitalism.. see .. and yeah, Bruce does hold back comments all the time that are just not to his liking since he is promoting the same things you are.. green is the new red.

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