The failure of Ontario’s new climate strategy

 Many economists and other experts assure us that carbon taxes are a good thing.  But, to paraphrase Margaret Wente, canny politicians (e.g. PMs Stephen Harper, Canada and Tony Abbott ,Australia) know some things economists are unable to factor into their analysis:–   viz that  a lot of people don’t like carbon taxes, and will punish governments that try to impose them. In Australia, climate policy has been a death knell for politicians who failed to read the fickle public mood.

 From time to time Australian politicians had to take measures against the domestic effects of climate change. In one instance,  a government that supported the coal industry had to commit large sums to protect and support the Great Barrier Reef, a coral reef that was threatened by Global warming,  

In Australia coal is still king. Last year the Treasurer of the Federal Government passed around a large lump of coal  during a parliamentary debate about climate change, saying “Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared”.   Pacific Rim powers Australia and the US have this week said publicly they have no plans to begin phasing out coal-generated power.

This year politicians in Ontario have done nothing to reduce Provincial emissions.   But they intend to adopt a strategy from Australia:  a government-financed Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) that  will promote the lowest-cost carbon abatement schemes to reduce emissions.  The Fund is expected to encourage “practical ways of reducing emissions where every dollar is spent on actually purchasing real means of decreasing Australia’s overall emissions”.

The Fund has been described as a “reverse climate tax” : instead of carbon emitters paying taxes, the state remits some of the taxes collected from individuals to finance schemes to reduce emissions.

To date there is little to show that ERF money has reduced Australian emissions. Australia remains one of the top emitters in the world, a situation that has not been changed since the “abatement schemes” were introduced.  

Mind you, Mark Jaccard, an expert on the subject of climate change, has said carbon tax is not the only way to proceed.  He prefers reduction of emissions through regulation.  His message will be treated as gospel by the Province of Ontario . . . . and in the debate voters will overlook Ontario’s actions in lowering emission targets when the UNFCC report is urging states to be more ambitious in tackling climate change!.

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