THE BLOG
03/20/2018 11:38 EDT | Updated 03/20/2018 11:38 EDT

Ontario Government Bloat Keeps Killing Alternatives To A Carbon Tax

Bureaucratic impediments and regulations make simple, common-sense solutions to fight climate change a no-go in Ontario.

Let's get one important fact out of the way, first. Man-made (or, if you are Justin Trudeau, people-made) climate change is absolutely real. Ninety-seven per cent of studies on climate change show this. To suggest climate change is NOT a concern is to deny reality.

Worse, the rate of rise in the average global temperature due to climate change is higher than expected. We are in the midst of a global crisis that will impact our planet for decades to come, and will leave behind a harsher, poorer world for our children, unless strong measures are taken.

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Which brings us, of course, to the carbon tax. Justin (selfie) Trudeau loves it. New Ontario PC Party leader Doug Ford hates it. But does a carbon tax actually work to reduce emissions enough to reduce the rate of climate change? So far, the results are mixed at best.

Norway has had a carbon tax since 1991, and yet their greenhouse gas emissions grew by 15 per cent. British Columbia had a reduction of five to 15 per cent, but we need a minimum 20 per cent reduction in order to keep global warming under the two-degrees-Celsius threshold agreed upon by climate scientists.

Does a carbon tax actually work to reduce emissions enough to reduce the rate of climate change? So far, the results are mixed at best.

As this paper shows, Europe actually met its goals for greenhouse gas reductions. However, the carbon tax was only part of the reason. A depressed economy from the 2008 financial crisis (resulting in less manufacturing) and innovative technology (cleaner cars, for example) helped. When the economy picked up, greenhouse gas emissions went up again, despite the tax.

In fact, the "cap and trade" aspect of Europe's carbon tax (where companies with low emissions sell their "credits" to companies with higher emissions so those companies don't pay more tax) — resulted in a complex bureaucratic nightmare that created a lot of jobs for paper pushers and actually harmed the environment with more greenhouse gasses released than before.

It's also worth while noting that the reason some Liberal supporters, and apparently the government itself, want a carbon tax is solely because they want more tax revenue to fund their bloated policies. Look at Liberal strategist Omar Khan's reply to my tweet.

See how Khan's main concern appears to be about the revenue shortfall — not the environment? And what did the loyally pro-Liberal Toronto Star say in their first editorial after the PC candidates announced they would not support a carbon tax? The first concern was about the $4 billion in revenue lost, with a scant mention of climate change as an afterthought. They both have mentioned the climate in future articles and tweets, but I think it's very telling that the first response from Liberals was "how are you going to replace the revenue?"

This is typical of Liberal politicians. The concept of running a lean, efficient government with less waste is totally foreign to them. They would much rather take your hard-earned money and spend more of it, than actually, you know, reduce the bloated size of government. Worse, the bloat actually stands in the way of opportunities to improve the environment.

Nine years ago, a colleague of mine had gone on a business trip to Germany, and found a company that found a way to encapsulate hazardous materials in a non-biodegradable substance. This allowed for waste products to be recycled into everyday items. There's actually a working factory in Germany, so it's not like this is a pie-in-the-sky project. But Ontario has 380,000 bureaucratic regulations, and at the end of the day it was not worth going through them all to bring the technology here.

AFP/Getty Images
Cyclists use the SolaRoad, the first road in the world made of solar panels.

That's just one example. I believe it's because of bureaucratic impediments like these are why innovative companies with technology that can fight climate change won't start up in Ontario. For example, I can't imagine how hard it would be for SolaRoad to get started in Ontario. They make roads out of solar panels, and this works better than anticipated. Solar panels reduce carbon emissions by 90 per cent compared to oil-based sources. This or a similar technology could certainly achieve better than the five to 15 per cent reduction from a carbon tax, no?

Additionally, there are simpler solutions that are more effective at reducing carbon emissions. How about saying that as of the 2025 model year, all new cars sold in Ontario cannot be gasoline only? They would have to be hybrid, electric, natural gas or other. Think that won't cut emissions more than a carbon tax? Many other countries believe this will help and are implementing such legislation. These vehicles reduce carbon emissions by 50 to 75 per cent (depending on how electricity is produced where you live). What's more, you don't need another fancy government building full of bureaucrats to regulate this like you would with the carbon tax. The car is either all gasoline or not. If it is, it can't be sold.

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Or how about a slight modification to the building code saying that all new homes must have a solar panel on their roof? No need to create another government agency. There are already processes in place for approving new homes. If a new home has a solar panel, approve it. If not, you know the rest.

I'm sure there are other innovative ideas, but you get the point. A simple solution without creating a bureaucratic nightmare will work better.

The bottom line is the planet is heading for an ecological catastrophe in the next several decades due to carbon emissions. We need to take drastic action to head this off, and carbon taxes are not the solution. For the sake of our children, we instead need to allow companies that have proven and existing renewable energy technologies to ply their trade in Ontario. The future of our planet depends on it.