Question: The BC Carbon Tax is only on the combustion of fossil fuels: livestock is a major emitter of GHG – so why isn’t the livestock business taxed?
A Partial answer: Environmentalists are aware of this issue but for the most part have not yet identified cattle ranching as a necessary target.
The livestock industry is a major emitter of methane, a greenhouse gas. In addition, ranchers burn fossil fuels like all farmers.
As its name suggests, the BC carbon tax applied to fossil fuels consumed by industry and consumers. The results of the tax have been positive, which is a validation for BC’s focus on carbon, the main element in greenhouse gases.
Undoubtedly there were political choices: the BC Government avoided a dispute with ranchers.
In the 2012 election year, this Government promised all farmers that it would review the application of the carbon tax. In 2014, the Government exempted farmers from paying the carbon tax on fossil fuels used in farming operations.
The BC Business Council questioned this new exemption, relying on a study in which Climate Forum panellist, Nic Rivers participated. The study found that the carbon tax had little impact on farming for three reasons:
- First, fossil fuels are on average just four per cent of farming costs;
- Secondly, as farming was less carbon intensive than other sectors (such as manufacturing) the limited impact of the tax put farmers in a more competitive position;
- Thirdly, the carbon tax was an incentive to B.C. farmers to aim for greater energy efficiency.