National Roundtable Climate Expert challenges NDP policy position

Fri, 2009-04-17 17:02Kevin Grandia
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National Roundtable Climate Expert challenges NDP policy position

The chair of the National Roundtable on the Economy and the Environment (NTREE) dismissed the B.C. NDP’s claim today that the party’s cap-and-trade scheme would punish polluters and save money for consumers.

Whether you manage climate change with a carbon tax or with cap and trade, “the price is going to be paid for by the consumer one way or another and I don’t see that as the major difference between the two systems,” Bob Page told CKNW talk show host Bill Good.

The NDP put out a press release today celebrating the release of an NTREE report that recommended economy-wide carbon pricing and suggested cap and trade as the preferred vehicle (in part because federal voters rejected a carbon tax last year).

But, according to an analysis by the Pembina Institute, the NDP cap-and-trade proposal would only cover 32 per cent of emissions, falling far short of the NTREE “economy-wide” target. The carbon tax which the NDP says it would repeal if elected affects 76 per cent of all emissions. 

Notwithstanding significant resistance from environmentalists and criticism from economists, the NDP has run an aggressive “axe the gas tax” campaign, arguing that a cap and trade punishes polluters instead of costing average consumers, and maing this a leading election issue, even before the release this week of the NTREE report.

NRTEE Chair Page stepped into the gathering debate today in a morning interview with Bill Good.

Here’s a transcript:

Bill Good: So what both [the carbon tax and cap and trade] attempt to do is put a price on the use of carbon?

Bob Page: That is correct and if people have to pay that price, they’ll try and avoid it by actually changing what they do.

Good: So is one better than the other?

Page: Well a carbon tax is more certain in terms of the dollar figure and a cap and trade is more certain in the volumes that you’re cutting. So some in industry like the idea of the [carbon] tax, many others in industry like the entrepreneurial aspects that are involved in a cap and trade system.

Good: There seems to be a feeling here in BC that the carbon tax hits the consumer and leaves industry off the hook and a cap-and-trade system is more inclined to capture the carbon waste of industry and not punish the consumer whereas the carbon tax hits us every time we fill up at the pump.

Page: Well I think that the plain truth here is that [the] key feature here is the price - and the price is going to be paid for by the consumer one way or another and I don’t see that as the major difference between the two systems. And whatever happens, carbon management is going to generate costs for the economy and the consumer.

There’s lots more, and you can hear the whole thing in the CKNW audio vault, choosing the 8am time slot for Friday, April 17. The interview with Paige starts at the 38 minute mark.

 

Comments

There is no challenging of the NDP position in this interview. There’s also nothing new in the snippet you present from the NW interview. the report clearly says that the two systems have distinct features, as he outlines above. However, the NRT clearly chose one option as the model they believe we should follow in Canada - the cap-and-trade model, which the NDP proposes.

Here are a couple quick quotes from the report:

“1. Unify carbon policies and prices across emissions and jurisdictions based on three principal policy elements:

an economy-wide cap-and-trade system transitioned from current and planned”

(Definition: u⋅ni⋅fy -verb to make or become a single unit; unite: to unify conflicting theories.) It doesn’t say to use two or three or ten models, but one, the cap-and-trade model.)

3. Use generated revenue from permit auctions first and foremost, to invest in the required technologies and innovation needed to meet the Canadian environmental goal of reduced GHG emissions.”

This recommendation clearly rejects the cornerstone of the BC Liberals’ policy - to make the carbon tax ‘revenue neutral’. A revenue neutral tax puts nothing back into research and development, or other measures to reduce emissions like increased investment in urban transit.

And for the record, Campbell’s carbon tax is not revenue neutral, but is regressive tax policy. A recent report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives points out that:

The carbon tax is regressive, relative to income, absorbing 0.7% of average household income for the bottom 20% of households, but only 0.3% of average income for the top 20% of households.

The report goes on to point out the impact when the low income tax credit would be phased out:

“This progressive result essentially disappears in 2009/10 and the overall tax and recycling framework becomes regressive by 2010/11. This is because the low-income credit is scheduled to increase by only 5% in 2009/09 (compared to a 50% increase in the carbon tax) and no further increases are scheduled.

If we project forward to 2012/13, these trends would worsen, and the carbon tax and recycling system would be clearly regressive, with the bottom quintile facing a net loss of 1% of income.”

On all these counts, Campbell’s carbon tax simply doesn’t measure up.

 

I will leave it to DSB readers to judge who is misrepresenting whom. The content of this original post was pretty clear and included a link to the full interview for people’s further information.

But I’d like to point out that the NRTEE calls - as per your own quote - for “an economy-wide cap-and-trade system,” while the NDP is calling for caps on industries representing just over 30 per cent of the greenhouse gas emitters in the province, leaving the others to continue buying and driving their Ford F150s without penalty or incentive to change.

So, the NRTEE seems to be saying yes to cap and trade, but NRTEE member Mark Jaccard has been pretty specific in saying no to the NDP version.

The NRTEE also says that consumers will wind up paying the cost of either mechanism - paying the carbon tax directly, or absorbing the cap-and-trade costs indirectly. One system exposes politicians to a charge that they are making users pay for polluting the atmosphere. The other, apparently, affords the NDP the opportunity to posture - to claim that they are only targetting big polluters and letting the “little guy” off the hook.

One might (if one were looking for a bit of invective to hurl around) call that a misrepresentation. 

If you did read the platform you wouldn’t make such ill-informed statements Richard. Here is are some of the key elements of the NDP platform:

BC NDP GHG policy:

  • Fight climate change by setting hard caps on greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, to achieve a 33% reduction by 2020.
  • Build on the work of leading climate change experts to develop a continental cap and trade plan, such as the plan proposed by US President Obama.
  •  Adopt California’s tough vehicle tailpipe emission standards.
  • Continue the moratorium on coastal drilling and crude oil tanker traffic on the BC coast.
  • Immediately expand transit and alternatives to car use.
  • Expand retrofit programs to reduce energy use and cut greenhouse gases.
  • Introduce BC Green Bonds to stimulate jobs and investment in green infrastructure while reducing greenhouse gases.

If you look at the BC Liberal plan, you will see that they leave the biggest polluters in the province off the hook on GHG emissions.  A story reported on The Tyee website shows that, under the Campbell plan, 30% of BC’s total GHG emissions are not covered by the tax. Getting off scot free are:  ‘fugitive emissions’ from the oil and gas industry (9% of total); ‘Industrial processes’ including cement and aluminum manufacturing (5% of total); non-fuel emissions from agriculture (4%); landfill emissions (7%) and more.

Hi Krispy, who are you? You seem to have an inordinate amount of time to defend the NDP’s “axe the tax” vote grab scheme. You also appear to be very well versed in the NDP platform.

Kevin, I’m just an interested BC citizen who is appalled at this orchestrated effort to push an ineffective and regressive tax and pillory the BC NDP, under the guise of a supposedly non-partisan environmental organization.

More important, I think is the question, ‘Who is Kevin Grandia, the Operations Manager of DeSmog blog?’ Well, here is a July 19, 2004 post on the Public Eye website on Kevin’s background, for your readers’ reference:

“Concerned citizens have informed us that provincial government event coordinator Kevin Grandia, a former ministerial assistant who has a reputation for being the public affairs bureau’s “event guru,” is abandoning his disciples. Mr. Grandia has been responsible for managing many of Premier Gordon Campbell’s centre-stage announcements. He also reportedly has a good working relationship with the premier’s deputy chief of staff Lara Dauphinee and was expected to play a prominent role in the upcoming election (which, by the looks of it, is already underway).

“But apparently that promise/threat wasn’t enough to keep Mr. Grandia, once and current Richmond MP Raymond Chan’s former constituency assistant, from breaking chief of staff Martyn Brown’s heart and going back to work for his old boss.”

So let’s see, James Hoggan, founder of DeSmog is a prominent BC LIberal supporter and contractor to the Gordon Campbell government. Kevin Grandia, the Operations Manager of DeSmog Blog is a former high-profile staffer for Gordon Campbell and former federal Liberal MP Raymond Chan.

And DeSmog Blog says it’s non-partisan? That the ‘only issue in the election is the carbon tax’? It is obvious that the principles behind this web site are to use it as a partisan wedge to drive votes away from the BC NDOP and work to re-elect the BC Liberals.

I can’t stand such underhanded, disingenuous behaviour, and my goal is to make sure that your readers at least get the other side of the issue, so that they can make up their own minds on the issue.

If you  can’t stand such underhanded, disingenuous behaviour, ‘fess up and speak to us candidly and with the courage of your convictions.  Who the effing-whatever are you?  I have laid out my credentials.  Richard & Kevin have posted theirs.  Make your point as yourself, or bugger off.  I am fed up to the teeth with people who hide behind pseudonyms and pretend that this is some kind of game.  What do you think is at stake here?  Have you no idea?  Oh bloody hell (sorry Richard) I’m going to sleep.

By way of background, Krisp, Fern is a longtime reader and, usually, a taste arbiter on the blog. You appear to have got under her fingernails in a big way.

As it happens, our usual comment policy (which discourages outburst that might get people riled up) allows you to continue lurking in anonymity. But I gotta say, Fern, and Kevin for that matter, have a point. Must be comfy in the cheap seats, especially if your expenses are being covered by the NDP.

Okay, I blew it.  I’ve been quietly watching this conversation develop and just finally snapped (2 glasses of wine must have lowered my normal inhibitions).  But it’s the howling height of irony that someone calling him/herself “Krispy” can ask “Who is Kevin Grandia?”  Am I supposed to take a French cruller seriously?

I’ll behave now.

Fern

Sorry Fern. It’s not my intention to purposefully insult anyone. My name is Chris. I am an NDP member, as you can probably tell, but I’m not being paid by anyone, or by the campaign to make these posts.

I decided to participate in the debate here, because I find it so absolutely one-sided, and represents an unfair bias against the BC NDP and their record on the environment. I think it is fair game to post details of DeSmog’s managers political affiliations, as it relates to the topic of the election and possible motivations for singling out the NDP without so much as a velvet glove being laid on the BC Liberal party, who have a horrendous record in the environment.

If the blog’s mandate is indeed to “clear the PR pollution that is clouding the science on climate change” as they claim, they have a duty to their readers to post a fair representation of factual information that allows readers to make up their own minds. In my opinion, that is not happening here. The entire web site has been given over to an anti-NDP political crusade. That’s not fair to their readers, and I’m trying my darndest as a single participant, to provide some alternative viewpoints on this important issue.

I’ve been an environmentalist for more than two decades, and I’m sick that the movement is being taken over by corporate interests, who seem to by buying influence in the movement.

The point here, Chris, is that the NDP has done an about-face on the carbon tax issue since the policy convention.  Instead if seizing the opportunity to say the Liberals haven’t gone far enough, that the NDP would build on the carbon tax and take other additional measures, their decision to “axe the tax” altogether is unnecessarily dismissive of the one positive step that the present government has taken.  Maybe the Liberals deserve to be thrown out, but does the carbon tax have to go with the bathwater?  To an outsider (and I grant I have not till now paid much attention to BC politics), this looks cynical and opportunistic.  I agree with an earlier post, that the deniers must be rubbing their hands in glee watching the “greenie” left-wingnuts tearing each other apart.

As for my outburst, as Richard said, I’ve been around for awhile here and I get a bit protective (sort of a mother hen, you might say).  This is clearly a contentious issue, involving deeply held convictions.  As it should be.

Fern

I can’t agree with you more Chris.

What does it matter who the readers are of this blog who are challenging its owners anyway? I’ll play along though. Hi my name is Ken and I will be voting NDP this election as I have every election except in 2001 when I voted Green. I don’t like the way the Liberals are using third party so called environmental websites run by PR companies to try and win the environmental vote when they have been the most destructive Government towards the environment in BC history.

This blog is pretty well funded and its important to expose the true agenda of the site which Krispy has done eloquently numerous times.

PR companies specialize in spin and DeSmog blog is spinning the carbon tax to make the Liberals look like they care about the environment. For a scathing rebuke of Berman and Suzuki read Alexander Morton’s communique on the Tyee. Alexander is a truly someone who cares about the environment. Here’s her email:

To Karen Campbell, David Suzuki, Tzeporah Berman

You want to punish Carole James??? Do you think this is grade school we are in? IS this really the most brilliant thing you could do?

As the living systems of the part of the world are under the final assault by the BC Liberal Government, you make headlines.

Do you realize that without so much as a heads up to those of us in the trenches trying to keep this coast alive you just snuffed out decades of work?

I am disgusted with the environmentalism in BC. There is no respect for anyone, least of all your peers.

You seem to have no idea of what Gordon Campbell is bringing down on us, irreversible wild salmon extinctions…..what do the trees that pull carbon out of the atmosphere need to survive???? SALMON!!!!!!

Your love in with Campbell is a betrayal to all that are alive in BC. Campbell is selling BC’s most vital resources….fresh running water…And that is OK with you? Because you sure did not get that into the headlines.

Yeah, you got big headlines….now what. If Campbell gets re-elected you can take the credit for all that follows.

I hope your funders are pleased with you because them and the Campbell government are the only ones.

Alexandra Morton

Brilliant!

“Must be comfy in the cheap seats, especially if your expenses are being covered by the NDP.”

And whose covering DaSmog Blog’s expenses?