Tag Archives: carbon tax

Carbon Tax and Post Consumer Waste

I received my $100 carbon tax credit (govspeak calls it the Climate Action Dividend) from the BC government yesterday. Of course, they can’t just send the money but have to include some do-good hype to cover up that they’re not actually doing much that’s green. Supposedly this is a revenue neutral tax because “by law, all revenue raised by the carbon tax must be returned to individuals and businesses through reductions to other taxes.”

The enclosed pamphlet is not high-end glossy so that’s good. It’s an 8×12.25″ piece of paper, folded into fours and double sided (French on one side, English on the other). It sports four-colour printing, which is always expensive. Were the colours needed to print the pictures of a child holding a plant, two people walking in a forest or the person’s head with thought balloons of a light bulb, lawnmower and a running shoe, or would two colour have done as well? I lookied closely for the recycling logo. There is none but it says this at the bottom:

By using 40% post consumer recycled paper for this project we saved… 262 trees, 10,780 kilograms of solid waste, 98,978 litres of water, 34, 105 kilowatt hours of electricity, 19,595 kilograms of greenhouse gases, 50 cubic metres of landfill space.

Saved? Hmm.

Let’s see…only 40% post consumer paper when many other magazines and publications use 60-100%? But maybe it wasn’t good enough for printing four colour. There is no mention of using vegetable based inks. And let’s look closer at this “SAVING” aspect. The Liberal government sent a cheque to every man, woman and child living in BC. That’s approximately 4, 428,000 people as of April 1. How many trees, water and kilowatts of electricity were used for this propaganda? How much landfill and greenhouse gases were created in printing this?

The carbon tax is for all forms of fuel including propane, oil, gas, diesel and natural gas. Yet if you look at the smartchoicesbc site it says there’s a tax on natural gas but then it says there’s a PST exemption for natural gas. WTF?

Content… we must look at content because it has an important message, doesn’t it? Oh and it’s from the Minister of Finance, not the Minister of the Environment. Well we are talking about money and what you can save but aren’t we really talking about lowering greenhouse gases? It does list six things you can do, four of which apply to homeowners, one for car owners and one for anyone who wants to buy compact fluorescent light bulbs.

I’ve been trying to get my landlord to put in better weather stripping. I already have the light bulbs so will I see more of this neutral revenue in my taxes right away? I don’t think so. It’ll be averaged out. A real climate action dividend for me would have been the government saving the money by not adding this mostly inane pamphlet, but taking the “saved” costs and lowering the price of public transit. That would really help me. As it goes, $100 doesn’t cover a two-zone transit pass for even one month.

And really, did the government need to send out a brochure to give us some simple examples of “Climate Smart Action” when most people will toss the cheques in their bank accounts and spend it on whatever comes next, either bills or that next tank of gas?

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Zenn Car or Tesla Roadster

I’m sure there are more electric cars out there but I recently mentioned the Zenn Car and Tesla Motors Roadster. Because I’ve wanted to downsize since last year, and should have done it then, I’ve been looking at cars. My Saturn Ion 3 does get pretty good mileage: 600 km to a 50 litre tank, or about 30 mi/gallon. That’s highway driving. But I don’t need the space and therefore could improve on the mileage with a smaller vehicle.

Well, an electric car would be ideal, right? When I looked at the Tesla Roadster http://www.teslamotors.com/, with its 220 miles to a charge, its ability to accelerate, its green aspects, I thought yes! The catch: you have to place an order and it could take a year to get your car. The cost is $109,000, which makes it a toy for the environmentally conscious elite only. It’s only available in the US. Still, if some of the jetsetting rich folk  think beyond what they can spend on frivolities, then that’s a start. And as we know, many rock and movie stars can be role models (just look at Paris!), so let’s hope they lead by green examples.

On the other end is the Zenn car http://www.zenncars.com/ made in Canada. It’s classified as a NEV (neighbourhood electric vehicle). That’s part of the catch; it only goes up to about 25 miles an hour/40 km. Even in Vancouver, should I be puttering about at 40 km, I’m going to make a lot of irate drives in the 50 km zones where everyone goes 60 km. But it’s cheap at $15, 995 USD. Available in many states, Zenn is looking at starting in Montreal for Canada. It’s taken awhile to get through the Canadian red tape even if it is a Canadian made car. But for delivery vehicles and people who just move about the city from work to the store to home, it’s a cheaper alternative.

I can’t buy the Roadster because it’s expensive and only avaialable in the US. I can’t buy the Zenn because its goes too slow (and I drive on the highway to get to work) and it’s only available in the US. I can’t buy a Prius or any other electric hybrid car because they’re too expensive.

Now, I had even more incentive to get a smaller car because of the BC government’s impending carbon tax, to make people choose greener alternatives. I’ve already grumbled about how this would work better if we actually had real alternatives. I should have sold my car six months ago when I first decided to downgrade. I’ve looked at the Honda Fit, the Toyota Yaris and the Nissan Versa. All are viable as smaller cars, all are similar though one is better at pick-up, one at trunk space, one at turning radius.

My catch? I still owe payments on my Saturn Ion 3. Although it’s been reliable and good on gas mileage, everyone is scared to buy cars (let alone trucks) right now. I can’t sell it for what it’s worth, which means I can’t buy a smaller, more energy efficient car. So the government has me where it hurts with their extra tax on the already taxed gas. And soon, it will be cheaper to take the bus, but it’s still cheaper for me to drive.

Anyone want to buy a good car?

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Suffering the Effects of Gas…Prices

Alas, today I had to put gas into the car. $25 for a quarter of a tank at $1.42 a litre. For those of you in the US, there are 3.8 litres to the US gallon (different from the imperial gallon) but roughly you can multiply it by four for a price of $5.68 a gallon. It’s still cheaper to gas up in the US, when I can, but I can’t afford to drive as far.

So, gas prices, definitely causing us discomfort but these days we hear, oh the price of food is going up because of gas prices. Airline tickets–gas prices. Clothing–gas prices. Gas prices–gas prices. Yes, the price of gas is going up because of the price of gas. Or gas prices are going up because of volcanoes, tsunamis, rain, broken fingernails or war somewhere. I wonder how much George Bush can be blamed for gas prices?

The moment that our lovely provincial government mentioned that they would be doing a carbon tax on gas as of July 1, the price went up by a couple of cents (back in April). Let’s not forget that gas is already taxed federally and provincially and more if you live in large urban centers–36.3% as of 2006 for Vancouver. Oh and there is tax on the tax. (You’ll have to read my earlier rant, “Carbon Tax: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” to see why I think it’s hugely flawed–the least amount of work the gov’t can do toward environmentalism.)

Let’s go back ten years or more. I remember a time when the price of gas stayed the same for months on end and would only change by a cent. In BC, less than ten years ago Arco started to come into the province. Gas went down to an unprecedented .29 cents a litre. You could gas up for $15. It began a gas war because of Arco’s low prices. Do they even exist anymore? At that point in time prices would drop or rise but stay that way for a week.

Somehow everything sped up exponentially. It became a daily thing to see prices change by .10 cents a litre and it still happens. So, tell me, great gas corporations, are your prices changing on the hour because of every geographic upheaval, drop of rain or hurled insult somewhere in the world? Does this somehow affect the reserves? According to these poor beleaguered gas companies, which I’m sure are losing money, yes, every little earthquake, every insurrection causes gas prices to change instantaneously.

Wow, we are so volatile. I notice that those world crises are at their lowest late at night and mid day but that they affect gas prices most when we are going to or coming from work and always on the weekend when you may be driving at any particular time. Gosh, our world is like a bunch of festering sores just constantly popping.

There have been calls for investigations into the price of gas and the fluctuation of such. I have yet to hear that there was such an investigation or the results. We’re at the mercy of the gas companies who will only switch wholeheartedly to hybrid or other clean energy cars when they can no longer suck the last drop of oil from the earth and likewise suck us dry. Just look at how little advertising has ever gone into a hybrid car and how they are more expensive than any gas guzzler. Oh, and if you check far enough some gas and car companies are often jointely owned or have shares in each other. Can we say collusion?

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On the High Horse: Greater Vancouver’s Attitude Toward Transportation

Transportation has always been an issue, but as gas prices bloat and government brings in carbon taxes, toll bridges (the Port Mann bridge is scheduled to have a toll booth, which will slow down the traffic even more) and other measures, all under the guise of being green, it means that people will want to seek alternative means.

Over the years, yes, people have relied more and more on their cars. When I was a child I would walk the ten-twenty blocks to school. These days everyone drives their kids. That’s partly because of the greater fear of predators, not to mention traffic has become exceedingly congested and inconsiderate, making it unsafe for younger children.

Housing prices have become exorbitant so people have to buy farther and farther out and then commute to work. If you live east of Vancouver you have the choice of taking buses; not a time efficient mode. There is the West Coast Express or a combination of SkyTrain and buses. The first is prohibitively expensive for many. But let’s look at using buses and SkyTrain. The farther out you live, the more you pay for a bus ride as the GVRD (now changing their name to Metro Vancouver)/Coast Mountain Bus  have conjointly allowed for the area to be split into zones. Which means you are punished for living farther from the downtown core.

Many people, including me, have opted to continue driving as it was cheaper for gas than a bus pass and more time efficient. Mexico City, with a population of plus 25 million keeps their trains cheap or the city would freeze from gridlock and completely decay from the pollution, which is already extremely bad. Cities like New York have an efficient subway system that runs frequently to all the boroughs and is comparably priced.

Efficiency means reliable. The bus/train system here has suffered from numerous breakdowns, especially in the winter. The stations are filthy and have a high criminal element lurking about. There has been a recent change to the stations with brighter lighting being put in and more security around the platforms. However, the level of filth (dirt, spit, gum, spills) on some of the platforms is still fairly high.

As well, people have been stranded when an overfull bus passes them by and there is no later one running. “Reliable transportation” would include buses running frequently and on time. Somehow the city decided it was a good idea to let downtown clubs and bars be open till 4:00 am if they wanted, but Coast Mountain closes down the SkyTrain just after midnight and the buses become infrequent or stop running to some areas far before most bars close. Incidences of weekend car thefts go up because somebody has come to town to party and find they can’t get home. I’d love to know who was the brainiac that thought that part out.

Taxis are likewise impossible to find on a weekend and would be too expensive to most other cities. Sure you can ride a bike, if you trust the drivers. I don’t, and that’s a story for another day. The public is held by the short and curlies. The GVRD, Coast Mountain and the BC government continue to tax everyone, raise prices of local transportation and add more tolls. They want to encourage us to use less fuel, mostly to garner votes in the “green” category. But where are the viable alternatives? Not enough public transportation that is affordable, reliable, safe and timely leaves people with spending more for not better.

Stress levels will increase, pollution won’t lessen because the green alternatives are missing. In the long run, this is the GVRD’s and the government’s ways of having more money coming in without putting effort in to true alternatives.

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Carbon Tax: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

The latest craze that even the government on all levels has realized brings popularity and kudos, is to go green. From civic to federal governments, this last year we’ve seen such buzz words as “eco, green, carbon tax and environment.”

Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan has been championing his “eco-density” movement as we move closer to an election campaign. For the busy, unthinking or easily duped they hear the word “eco” and will go, Oh it must be good for us and the environment, so I’ll vote Sam. What does it really mean? It’s another word for condo, high-rise and sardine city. Eco-density, like the use of collateral damage to mean dead people, is just disguising the continual downgrading of our living spaces to smaller and smaller areas for higher prices. Oh, but they’ll put a little greenspace outside so that when you’re pressed up against the glass and staring down five stories, you can dream of a previous era where people gamboled in the grass.

The BC government, so good at tearing up contracts and firing hospital workers to the tune of saving money, cleanliness issues and losing lives, who started singing the song of saving our environment has just instituted the carbon tax, to take place July 1. Because, they parrot, it will make people use gas less and think of greener alternatives. Supposedly it will affect every use of fuel, including those who have to heat their homes this way. It will include gas, diesel and natural gas. Much better to let those little old people with their thinly insulated skin shudder away and wrap up in old blankets. Then the government can say, well look at them; aren’t they doing a great job.

The carbon tax makes no sense. It’s like saying, oh people are buying too much food, so we’ll raise the price of food. The rich will just pay more and the poor people will eat less and starve. It wouldn’t be so bad if there were cheap, viable and environmental alternatives. But there aren’t. A hybrid car is already more expensive than a gas-powered car. But the federal government was giving a $1000 rebate should you buy one. The price was still more than a cheaper gas car and the government decided it sends a better message to get rid of this rebate.

Bus/SkyTrain transportation is so expensive that it was still cheaper for me to take my car to New Westminster from Vancouver than to take the bus and its requisite hassles (not reliable, not always on time, strange, sometimes dangerous street people). I’ll have to check again but the green alternatives aren’t there. Those buses still spew gas. Electric or hydrogen buses would be better. Vancouver has been testing one fuel cell bus that I know of.

Alternative fuels or making the gas and oil companies change the composition in the fuels could help. There is ethanol for one, though it has its own issues. Putting better systems into new cars for fuel and emissions also could help but I don’t know how much can be done there or how much research has been done. I’d like to hear about it though and the government isn’t chatting about all the green alternatives they’re offering or looking into.

Perhaps the government thinks it’s a frivolous option for people to go to work. There are many smaller areas and farm communities where people must drive to go anywhere. It really doesn’t help them and punishes them. Not to mention, the truck drivers that haul goods and food across the country are doing us a service. Perhaps they should stop driving too. Oh no, of course not; the price of everything will just go up. And try to sell a car right now so that you can go green: you can’t.

Should I even mention that this does nothing for the existent problem of pollution and greenhouse gases and it’s the least effective (energetic) way of implementing change. I’d like to know what the tax money will go to except lining government coffers. Bringing in better mass transportation and alternatives would make the carbon tax more feasible if it was actually applied to the big users. If even the little people, the poor people and those who have no choice are punished, it just means that in the end as always, the poor will get poorer and the rich will just continue to pay more to consume the same amount. And the government will sit back like a fat cat and lick its chops.

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