Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"It's really not an either-or situation."

That quote, from Clare Demerse of the Pembina Institute, reacting to the NDP's cap and trade proposal announced today:

"It's really not an either-or situation."
Demerse said it's "an artificial distinction" to suggest, as Layton has done, that the NDP route would punish polluters while the Liberals' would punish consumers. She noted that a carbon price charged to big emitters will eventually end up being passed on to consumers.

And, the above is why I think the NDP have unnecessarily boxed themselves in on the environment file. On specifics, you could argue cap and trade trickles down anyways, as noted above, so you are essentially undercutting your own concerns about a carbon tax.

Layton admits as much on the NDP website today:
“We all know that the economy will be affected by any serious attempt to curb emissions,”

Which is why the NDP offers a billion dollars for "training", obviously in reaction to the lost jobs such a plan would bring. Anyways, if the NDP wishes to argue that they can focus on half the problem and get the desired result, floating themselves as the champions of the poor, while the Liberal plan is put on the backs of the "vulnerable", that is their choice, but in the end it won't fly. Why?

I don't know the Liberal plan, but if anyone wants to believe there won't be allowances to protect the people Layton champions, then they are in for a rude surprise. Layton argues the merits of cap and trade, which I don't necessarily disagree with, but in presenting such a black and white argument, the kneejerk attack on the Liberals, I think he has ultimately failed politically.

Ignatieff today:

"How to put together a revenue neutral carbon tax, leading towards, leading towards a cap and trade system. It's not an either/or situation, we might have a revenue neutral carbon tax, followed by a cap and trade system."

Exactly the point of Demerse, and a posture which will out-flank the NDP. The Liberals will offer a cap and trade component, but with some understanding, supported by experts, that it will take time to develop. A two stage approach that doesn't reject either view, but embraces them both, while the NDP have painted themselves into one corner. It may just end up that Layton loses his either/or argument, as Dion agrees on merit, but differs in approach, with an added element. I'm sure my NDP friends would vehemently disagree ;)

24 comments:

Robert McClelland said...

A carbon tax won't accomplish anything so what's the point of it. It's all pain and no gain.

clh said...

Robert, why do you say that? Why did it work in Sweden? If increased gas prices have already had an effect, why won't a carbon tax have an effect?

Dana said...

It won't work because that's the dippers talking point.

A new Liberal government could propose the entire wish list of dipper priorities and Layton's NDP would oppose all of it just because it was introduced by Liberals.

Oh wait they've already done it when they defeated the Martin government before Universal Child Care or the Kelowna Accord could be enacted.

Todays NDP is a perversion.

ottlib said...

Yes it does boggle my mind that the NDP, the self-identified guardians of the environment, would seem to believe that there is one and only one approach to reducing ghg emissions.

Robert, taxes work at changing behaviour. There is a huge body of economic literature that proves that. So a carbon tax will work.

The cap-and-trade will work too. Unfortunately, it will take years to set up assuming we get cooperation from business. If not it could take close to a decade to set one up.

A tax shift plan can be implemented in one budget soon after an election.

So, Canada could take some concrete action to reduce ghg emissions in the short term. It could then introduce the cap-and-trade system and greater investment in green technologies in the medium to long-term.

I do not see a problem with that and I cannot believe Jack Layton and his supporters do see one.

Anonymous said...

As president of the Environmental Defense Fund, Fred Krupp helped establish a market-based cap-and-trade system to limit acid rain pollution in the late 1980s. In Earth: The Sequel, co-written by Miriam Horn and published by W.W. Norton & Co., he says this system is the most effective way to stop climate change in the 21st century. . .

Q: Why not a carbon tax?

A: There's no example of an air pollution problem anywhere in the world that has been solved without a cap or legal limit on how much of that pollution can be dumped into the sky. A cap gives you that legal limit, where a tax allows people to potentially keep on paying a modest amount and keep on polluting.

Steve V said...

"There's no example of an air pollution problem anywhere in the world that has been solved without a cap or legal limit on how much of that pollution can be dumped into the sky."

Does anyone believe the Liberals won't have a cap on pollution? I mean, isn't that just common sense, that the Liberals want targets with their plan, a cap by definition. When you say, you will cut GHG's by such and such a percentage, by such and such a time, seems capish. It's a given.

Robert McClelland said...

Why did it work in Sweden?

Did it? Their government claims it did but I've yet to see evidence--beyond some study that tracks deaths from pollution--backing that claim.

Aside from that, look at how much of a carbon tax Sweden and other Scandinavian countries have imposed.

Norway: $100/tonne
Denmark: $100/tonne
Sweden: $150/tonne

Dion's won't even come close to that amount.

Then of course there's the undeniable fact that the rise in gasoline prices over the past half dozen years hasn't affected our consumption. An overall carbon tax will be just as ineffective.

The only things that will work are hard caps on emissions and alternative choices. Any other measures are superfluous.

Robert McClelland said...

Robert, taxes work at changing behaviour. There is a huge body of economic literature that proves that.

Then by all means, point me to some of this "huge body" of economic literature backing up this magical thinking.

Steve V said...

"Dion's won't even come close to that amount."

Then why all the talk about people living on the streets, with no food or clothing, thanks to Dion's massive initiative? You can't have it both ways Robert.

I think what we are seeing here, the NDP has tunnel vision, it's picked a path, whereas the Liberals seem open to different approaches. I hope they do draw on the real experiences in other countries, maybe they can come out with version 2.0, a progression.

In the end, the NDP will look like the attack dogs, and it will raise the spectre of partisan consideration, while the Liberals are left with an open minded approach. The real kicker, and let's watch for this, if the Liberals overlap some of the NDP policy. We'll see.

clh said...

Robert, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has lots of data on their website, tracking emissions from the various sectors since 1990. Sweden has set more ambitious targets for itself than those set under the EU.

clh said...

If you want to compare Sweden to other EU countries, the data is here: European Environmental Agency

Sweden is below their Kyoto target, whereas many EU countries will have trouble meeting their Kyoto targets.

Sean S. said...

I don't know how anyone can compare the NDP and Liberal plans at this point, for the simple fact that there is no Liberal plan. So until such a plan emerges the NDP plan, on paper, is the better one.

Steve, you can say over and over again that "Does anyone believe the Liberals won't have a cap on pollution?" but why should anyone believe they will until they actually present one?, the Libs have a great track record on talk, but very little action, on the environment.

So lets put the rhetoric aside before there are actual apples to compare here. I think the one thing that we can agree on is that the NDP plan as it stands is far and above the Liberal plan or anything else that has been presented in the past 15 years....of course it is also the only plan at this time...

Ideally, it would be great to see something that targets industry (50% of the problem) and the average consumer (the other 50% of the problem). And of course such a plan needs to have contingencies to deal with the shift in job markets, etc...

--------

and I couldn't resist this - Dana, get over it! That was over 2 years ago!

JimBobby said...

I think the one thing that we can agree on is that the NDP plan as it stands is far and above the Liberal plan or anything else that has been presented in the past 15 years....of course it is also the only plan at this time...

Yeah, and the Green Party doesn't exist. So far, everything we know about the Liberal plan suggests it is an imitation of the longstanding Green plan. The latest revelation from Iggy falls right into line with the GPC's call for both a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system.

Congrats to the NDP for putting out a written plan. The Greens beat you to it by a few years and you shouldn't be claiming that you're the only party with the guts to commit a plan to paper.

Denying that the Greens exist won't do anymore good than denying that climate change exists or denying that consumers will ultimately pay for any plan that increases expense for businesses.

JB

Sean S. said...

Sorry JimBob, my bad.....I guess the Fed NDPs meme of ignoring the Green Party has leached into my brain. Heck, I have even read the Green Party plan and still forgot about it.

In my defence, I was responding more to the particular post and its Lib/NDP comparison.

I guess the Green's have made it as a national party now that the Libs are apparently borrowing their policies as well!

JimBobby said...

NP, Sean. Us treehuggers like it when bigass parties borrow our ideas. That's about the only way we're able to get them enacted.

Now that the Grits have said they ain't opposed to cap-and-trade and opened the door for a combined, two-prong attack on GHG's, maybe the Dippers'll join forces with the other Earth lovers. It's for the sake of the planet and the Grits sound like they're willing to meet the NDP halfway. If the Dippers dig in their heels now, it sure won't look like they're puttin' the planet first.

JB

Steve V said...

"Steve, you can say over and over again that "Does anyone believe the Liberals won't have a cap on pollution?" but why should anyone believe they will until they actually present one?,"

I can say it over and over, without seeing the plan, because it's common sense.

BTW, I haven't been a Liberal for the last fifteen years, so all the criticism is quite irrelevant to the NOW.

Sean S. said...

There still is nothing NOW....that's the point.

Steve V said...

sean

Obviously, but the general theme is out there. All I'm saying, I will be shocked if their isn't a schedule for reductions, timeframes, which by their nature dictates a cap. Am I speculating? Of course, but again, that idea seems like a starting point to any initiative, so I take it as a given.

Mushroom said...

Layton's plan also gives Dion the possibility to outflank him. Dion can attack Layton's cap and trade by saying it falls short on achieving global justice, as the people at Carbon Trade Watch (do a google search to find the link) would point out.

A carbon tax not only alleviates climate change but has the potential to promote environmental and social justice. Instead of supporting cap and trade, Dion can respond with cap and no trade.

Dion needs to come clean on the idea of revenue neutrality. Thus, he needs to promote tax shift NOT as a tax cut, but to redistribute income fairly. This means he may need to balance a tax cut on the lowest and middle income earners with a tax INCREASE on the highest income earners. Furthermore, instead of trading carbon credits, Canada needs to contribute to climate change by increasing the foreign aid budget to 1.0 per cent of GDP.

If Layton wants to make it an either-or-situation, Dion and the Grits can play along. We can say we are for a carbon tax, global governance, environmental and social justice. The NDP supports the preservation of an old economic order in which the rich and Harper's Conservative elite continue to exploit the masses, just for the sake of preserving labour rights in the industrialized worldd.

Danielle Takacs said...

But there IS something out right now, the Liberals put out the carbon budget over a year ago. See here

What are the 5 main points of the Carbon Budget policy? Well:

1. Establish an Absolute Emissions Cap

2. Set a Carbon Budget

3. Put a Price on Carbon

4. Fuelling Green Innovation

5. Establishing a carbon trading system

So anyone who thinks the Liberals are ditching cap and trade or an absolute cap has no evidence with which to say so. The Carbon budget formed the essence of Bill C-30 that all opposition parties supported. The Liberals are now planning to go beyond the Carbon Budget and Bill C-30 but they are not rejecting cap and trade and it’s strange for NDP supporters to be implying as much.

David McGuinty has already said quite recently the Carbon Budget is not being tossed out and that the Liberals support a combination of cap and trade and tax shifting. David McGuinty is the environment critic so I would think he knows what he’s talking about.

And for those who claim taxing carbon does nothing, aside from the data others have cited to show it does work, here is more that shows that people have responded to rising gas prices so it’s quite reasonable to assume they would respond similarly to increases in the price of other forms of energy.

As well, its been made clear that there will be additional support given to those with low-income, fixed incomes and those living in rural areas so that they are not hit by rising prices. You don’t have the Deputy Leader and environment critic say these things without it actually happening in the actual policy that’s introduced, it’s lunacy to argue otherwise.

The NDPers will have to find a new line to use for their fear mongering.

Danielle Takacs said...

Ok it seems links don't work as well on this site.

The carbon budget policy is here:
http://www.liberal.ca/pdf/docs/whitepaper_EN.pdf

The data on the response to gas prices is here:
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/09/prices-and-gasoline-demand

Hopefully those work.

Steve V said...

"Layton's plan also gives Dion the possibility to outflank him."

Agreed.


danielle

Good points. And those five items can still be the basis for a fleshed out policy, there is no inconsistency.

Anonymous said...

I predict the Liberals will go through the motions of proposing some form of cap and trade (or a facsimile thereof) but it will be a very weak, watered down version that industry will pronounce itself happy with.

Steve V said...

" predict the Liberals will go through the motions of proposing some form of cap and trade (or a facsimile thereof) but it will be a very weak, watered down version that industry will pronounce itself happy with."

Won't you be surprised then.