Carbon taxes are receiving so much attention that people are losing their ability to evaluate climate policies by any other measure, editor and commentator Chris Hatch argues in a post on the National Observer.
The ultimate standard for any climate policy is whether it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. But “carbon tax fetishism is insidious,” Hatch writes. “The fetish causes otherwise intelligent people to ignore the real yardstick of success, as well as ignoring other important policies. It sucks politicians, analysts, and journalists into groupthink, and the entire national climate conversation is losing the plot.”
The problem came to a head when British Columbia released its long-awaited climate strategy. The plan received blistering criticism for postponing meaningful climate action by 15 years and failing to raise the province’s carbon tax. But Hatch takes one commentator to task for suggesting that the tax decision was “the main issue” in the whole planning exercise.
“Uh…no. The main issue is that B.C.’s emissions are on the rise and the government decided against cutting them back,” he writes. “If we’re getting real here, the main issue really should be how quickly a wealthy country plans to eliminate its carbon emissions altogether, and how close a plan comes to that goal.”
In that sense, Hatch sees the reaction to the B.C. plan as a “useful dress rehearsal” for the next couple of months. “The Trudeau government will start rolling out a climate plan for the whole country this fall,” he writes. “Promises have been made, balloons have been floated. Almost all of them about carbon pricing. And so little about other policies that it’s worth worrying that the feds believe pricing is the litmus test.”
Even more disturbing: “Perhaps the feds would prefer we ask if they’d been successful at establishing carbon pricing, rather than successful at reducing emissions and fighting global warming.”