Jaccard analysis blunts NDP's carbon tax axe

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Simon Fraser University Professor and (Nobel-winning) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contributor Mark Jaccard has torn the BC New Democratic Party (NDP) policy document into little tiny shreds in an analysis released yesterday [PDF].

The NDP’s environmental proposals are not just doomed to failure, Jaccard said, they will also chase jobs from B.C. in the tens of thousands. 

For people not from Canada’s coast, the NDP is a traditional coalition of social policy progressives, labor activists and environmentalists. This particular iteration of the NDP, however, appears intent upon carving off its environmental arm in favour of pandering to the libertarian types who just love to scream about government taxation.

The tax in question – the first formal carbon tax imposed by any jurisdiction in North America – is arguably the most progressive climate change policy on the continent. At just $10 a tonne, it is embarrassingly modest, but it’s a start.

Rather than criticize it as inadequate (a completely reasonable position), the NDP has chosen to attack it as somehow unfair and as less effective than their (according to Jaccard) laughably incosequential alternative.

In fairness, Jaccard doesn’t use the phrase “laughably inconsequential,” but he posts a couple of nice graphs that show the consequences of the NDP’s previous initiatives. And he segues in the this commentary on political cynicism:

Given the strength of this evidence on the failure of non-compulsory policies … it might be difficult to imagine why politicians might still opt for this ineffective approach. But the reason is obvious to political analysts. Policies that price GHG emissions cause rising energy prices for consumers. Consumers are also voters. Thus, while an economist or an environmentalist might express dismay and even shock that politicians would continue to promote and implement clearly ineffective policies, a skeptical political analyst or media pundit might argue that Canadian climate policies have been, from the perspective of some politicians, a “political success.” The setting of aggressive GHG targets and the reliance on ineffective information and subsidy programs have enabled politicians to speak convincingly about their deep concern for the climate while, at the same time, not causing rising energy prices for which they might be blamed at election time. If, a decade or two later, it is shown that the political promise to reduce emissions failed, that day of reckoning is likely to come long after the politician has left office.

There is, conventionally, no reason to be shocked or dismayed that your average politician might be tempted toward short-sightedness and expedience. But in Canada, the NDP once had a reputation for putting principle ahead of political gain. BC NDP leader Carole James promised to forge a new direction when she took over the party.  Who knew this was the direction she would choose?

This month we’re giving away FREE copies of Thomas Friedman’s bestselling book Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America.

Go here to find out more details about DeSmogBlog’s monthly book give-away.

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