Desperate politics are costly in addressing runaway climate change

Nov 21, 2023 | 42-4, Blog, Governance, Legislature, Motions, Video

I rose in response to a Motion introduced by the Dan Davies, BC United MLA for Peace River North

Be it resolved that this House supports permanently eliminating the provincial fuel tax to ease the pain at the pump and removing the carbon tax on all home heating.

“A rise of 3°C in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels by 2100 would be disastrous. Its effects would be felt differently around the world, but nowhere would be immune. Prolonged heatwaves, droughts and extreme weather events could all become increasingly common and severe. Worryingly, slow progress from governments in cutting emissions make this an uncomfortably plausible scenario.”

The Economist (October 30, 2021)

“Countries’ current emissions pledges to limit climate change would still put the world on track to warm by nearly 3 degrees Celsius this century, according to a United Nations analysis released Monday.”

Reuters (November 20, 2023)

People are facing high prices and the impacts of extreme weather events that are the result of climate change.

In my response to the motion, I argue that cutting the gas tax and carbon tax on home heating will not be realized in savings for British Columbians but profits of greedy corporations. They will be all to happy to add it to their bottom line.

This motion is desperate politics amounting a huge step back on climate action. We need to tax the predatory corporate profits, pollution, polluters, and the heaviest emitters like the LNG industry—they need to pay their share too! We need to make sure more people are eligible to receive the carbon tax rebate and that the amount they are receiving reflects offsets the cost of carbon. There is benefit to transitioning to a less carbon intensive tech and government should aggressively support British Columbians in this effort.

Carbon taxes were established to encourage different behaviour, not punish people. In light of the most recent report of the United Nations, we need to improve the policy not abandon it.


I think it’s important to just note that this motion is bad politics. It’s bad economics.

These comments need to be framed in the UN Emissions Gap Report that was released this morning. Fossil fuel production and use has reached record highs, producing nearly 90 percent of CO2 emissions. We’re on track for three degrees of global warming.

Now is not the time to shy away from tackling climate change but to lean in. If anyone thinks that doing less is somehow going to make things better, they’re sorely mistaken.

The tax on fuel and the carbon tax are not the reasons British Columbians are facing an affordability struggle. The fuel tax we pay at the pump funds transportation and other critical infrastructure in our communities. Is transportation infrastructure free? Will the members of this House have an honest discussion with British Columbians about the need to create revenue-generating programs, such as mobility pricing, to manage and fund transportation infrastructure in the future? Cutting red tape and deregulating industry will not create the revenue we need to upgrade and expand the transportation network.

Cutting taxes sounds appealing, but it doesn’t solve the problem. Someone, somewhere will pay. The idea to price pollution is to change behaviour, not punish people. For those who cannot afford to change fuel type, carbon tax rebates are designed to neutralize the cost. It provides an incentive to switch to low-carbon tech. It’s good policy, and it’s good economics. It uses a price mechanism to manage demand rather than regulation, and arguing to remove it is bad politics and nothing more than a quick win.

Taxing people and corporations who pollute is the right approach. While British Columbians face suffocating social and economic pressures — the cost of food, fuel and housing — we face an existential threat from climate change.

No one in British Columbia is spared from extreme weather events. Nothing is more terrifying than the raging inferno of wildfires. Nothing is more powerful than water in the atmospheric rivers and rains. Aging 20th-century infrastructure — the dikes, the dams, the culverts — can’t handle the 21st-century extreme weather events.

The emotional costs of crisis on people and communities are heavy, and the financial cost is unsustainable. The B.C. United have to understand this. They’ve been besieged by fire and fearing freshet for years.

[12:00 p.m.]

If we cut the carbon tax and the gas tax, do we think the savings will line the pockets of the public? That’s some sort of magical thinking. The fossil fuel corporations, like the corporations that control our food, will raise their prices, and they’ll take that profit.

The federal and provincial governments have been proven unable to hold them accountable. We fall for their corporate lobbying, arguing the cost of doing business in British Columbia is too high, yet these multinationals post billion-dollar quarterly profits. I agree it is too costly — for small business, but not for the multinationals.

These are the same predatory corporations that strip our environment bare, frack and drain our aquifers and abandon industrial waste for the public to clean up. Greedy corporate profit-taking, skyrocketing prices, shrinking proportions. We get more and pay less.

Mr. Speaker, I’ll end with this. Let’s tax the excessive corporate profits pilfered from hard-working British Columbians. Let’s tax the pollution and force the polluter to pay their proportion. Let’s make the heaviest emitters, including LNG, pay their fair share. Let’s improve the carbon tax, not cut it — increase personal rebates so they reflect the amount of carbon tax that people pay.

Finally, let’s get real in this place, because this motion was not real. British Columbians deserve serious politics, not bad politics.


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