Thursday, July 20, 2006

It's Easy Being Green

I'm delighted to see the environment as Priority Number 2 in Canadian public opinion. Follow me, brothers and sisters! You have only your smog-related health concerns and catastrophic climate change to lose!

Thanks to Springer for this link on guesses as to the government's promised-for-autumn enviro legislation.

Am I nuts, or... isn't the "liberal" side supposed to be greener? Thirteen years of concern over climate change under Liberal rule, and - nothing. Get this - I just found out that our last big sweeping enviro legislation came from the last Conservative government. Crazy re: expectations, but hey, whoever can get it done best is my pony to back. Probably.

12 Comments:

Anonymous e said...

The Liberals have talked big on the environment, but done very little. The Conservatives seem to get more done.

My problem with both of their approaches, is that they really just maintain the status quo. The tarted up press release that you point to underlines that fact: the Tories are considering more parks, and tightening of a few regulations, but no action on fossil fuel reduction, and no action on creating an economic system the discourages asocial activities (pollution, creating waste, using public resources without paying for them, paying workers poorly, marketing physically addictive products, etc).

One of the reasons that I support the Green Party is that they actually consider doing things differently. That party introduced me to the idea of tax shifting, which essentially means removing taxes on "good" things (such as employment), and adding taxes to "bad" things (such as pollution, and other irresponsible behaviour). So, for example, a Green government would lower taxes on income, while raising taxes on carbon use.

Friday, July 21, 2006 7:47:00 AM  
Blogger Cherniak_WTF said...

It's easy being green unless it cost money.

You see, you hear a lot about wanting to be green but actually getting something done is another matter - because it cost money and may affect my standard of living...

The Green party talk a fair game but have too narrow a focus (sorry e).

Friday, July 21, 2006 8:13:00 AM  
Blogger Brian C said...

"Am I nuts, or... isn't the "liberal" side supposed to be greener? "

Yep you're nuts. In Alberta, the Liberal Party wants to LOWER gas taxes, not raise them.

I would agree with "e". Permanent environmental change involves modifying the economy by tax credits and tax shifting. If you realistically look at environmental change, it is occurring more quickly in the U.S. than in Canada.

Friday, July 21, 2006 8:43:00 AM  
Blogger Cherniak_WTF said...

Gas taxes have nothing do to with pollution.
Economists claim it's an elastic good - but it really does not have that much "spring" in it.

Friday, July 21, 2006 9:38:00 AM  
Blogger Brian C said...

"Gas taxes have nothing do to with pollution."

The U.S. Department of Energy differs with that view...thankfully.

"According to the U.S. Department
of Energy, a 50-cent gas tax increase could eventually reduce gasoline consumption by 10 to 15 percent, reduce oil imports by perhaps 500,000 barrels per day, and generate about $40 billion per year in revenue. Furthermore, this approach would be far more effective than ongoing proposals to increase the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards,which affect only new cars (not trucks or other vehicles) and lead to serious safety problems by encouraging automakers to produce lighter vehicles."

Friday, July 21, 2006 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

Whoa - I invented "tax shifting"! I had no idea that anyone besides me talked about such a thing!

Well, I think it's a good idea, I've long said we could drop income tax and replace revenue with "user fees", so to speak, on gas and hydro and such. (But to be complicated, nuclear powered electricity should cost much less than coal-generated electricity)

I think we need to move off of oil/gas if for no other reason than stopping sending money to crazy dictatorships... nuclear-plant-powered electric cars would be a great side benefit, too!

Friday, July 21, 2006 1:09:00 PM  
Blogger Cherniak_WTF said...

brian C - thanks for demonstrating my point.
Your 2004 article was conjecture - now that gas prices have gone up more than 0.50$ gallon, the consumption has not gone down.

Gas consumption is not an elastic good - You could tax it up to 100$/l and I still have to get to work.
I can't wait to see the new public transit usage number... I'm sure they will be a hoot... or not...
That tax hurts the middle class more than helps the environment.

Without a money saving alternative, you will not see a shift in usage.
Look when solar power came out, many of us had a hardon - no more paying Hydro and saving money.
Having looked into using solar panels to reduce my monthly cost, the amortization time is not worth it.
If we had the money, sure we'd do it but it's a lifestyle choice.

Canada is the biggest exporter of oil to the U.S. (Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia then Venezuela)
Our oil production is a huge polluter (but making Alberta rich).

So when I hear of hippy granola earth muffins talk about lowering certain taxes increasing others, I find most of these unrealistic. In Quebec when a carbon tax was announced, the producers said, no problem, we'll pass it on to consumers... As a consumer, I'm tired of being reamed in the ass by taxes...

Friday, July 21, 2006 1:58:00 PM  
Blogger Brian C said...

Cherniak, don't pretend I proved your point. Hold onto your horses, the key word in the article was "eventually". Calgary is already talking about fast tracking LRT plans due to higher demand caused by the high fuel prices. Calgary's LRT system is almost full to capacity. If prices remain high, we certainly will be choosing more fuel efficient vehicles.

"Without a money saving alternative, you will not see a shift in usage. "

That's what the tax shifting is about. It makes polluting options more expensive.

"Gas consumption is not an elastic good - You could tax it up to 100$/l and I still have to get to work."

You know that if gasoline was $100/L, almost noone would drive to work. Everyone would telecommute and our society would be entirely different. If I'm spending tens of thousands of dollars on gasoline, I'll move so that I could walk to work if I had to.

Friday, July 21, 2006 3:06:00 PM  
Blogger Cherniak_WTF said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, July 21, 2006 4:29:00 PM  
Blogger Cherniak_WTF said...

Brian C – I don’t have any horses. I’m a city worker and they don’t permit horses in the elevator….

You are talking about a regional phenomenon with regards to Calgary Transit.
We have seen an increase in gas consumption from year to year. High prices may have a small effect on individual consumption but will do nothing for overall unless credible alternatives are found.

Tax shifting is pie in sky voodoo chicken mumbo jumbo because it fails to take into account humans and by proxy human nature. [Insert other derogatory words here that have no effect on the conversation]

Commuters are travelling longer hours (and more distances) than ever before. Even with the best “every 10 minutes LRT train/bus that doesn’t smell like garlic and sweat in here” system will you make a sizeable difference.

It’s bunk I say, pure bunk (I like that word) to think that people will move closer to work. Take Toronto or Montreal, the burbs exist for a reason – wife swapping… (Actually is quality of life and big semi-affordable house to put junk in).

So people look at it this way – I can have a 2500 sq foot house, on a 15 000 sq foot lot for 160 000$ and drive 50 minutes to work each way.
Or I can move closer to work and get the same (or shittier) house and pay more taxes but travel 30 minutes to work (each way) for 300 000$…. Given that my salary is “x”, guess what I’m taking Shirley… I mean Brian….

Now, to you think there is public transit in the burbs? Some places yes, some no – it’s not very good and to make it better, your taxes would be up even more… so no thanks….

Not a pretty picture – I know (apart from the wife swapping part).

So, lets look at cars – I’d love to get me one of those hybrid things – fuck I even have a friend who’s got one. I’ve got two kids, a dog and an indiscriminate wife, I’m bigger than average (big hands, big feet, big head and big… well everything is in proportion anyways)…. So I need a bigger hybrid fancy people mover. There is a premium attached to those things you know – calculate the saving on gas, minus the extra cost for the premium of having a hybrid fancy people mover and I’m actually saving nothing… So fuck that…

You see, you’ll move to get closer to work: but us big house, big screen TV, over sexed suburbanites will not. Price of gas starts going up, sure I’ll look into a smaller car but to be honest, I’d buy a used guzzler with the fancy cup holders…. And if the price of gas does go up too much, well I’ll be squeezed and that disposable income that helps the economy will not be going round…
Heck, I start curtailing too many activities, I may start turning into a curmudgeon and kill the squirrels ‘round here and make me some fur underwear.

It’s not all doom and gloom – and curse my neighbours with the big screen TV and the perky breasted little wives that moan and groan and look at you in that “special way” – they can change but how?

This is were brainiacs (you know the ones that don’t get any wife swapping action) have to get creative and look beyond their backyards (not the neighbours but, like oh-my-god Canada and other shit).

I remember in the 80s, home offices were going to revolutionize the way we worked – we could sit in our boxers eating chezeey puff all while watching Springer and working… So how did that work out? Well we got to go to work in the morning and come back in the evening at work some more at home….

Now apart from some California like emission control on cars and maybe forcing livestock to be less gassy what practical inexpensive solutions are they?

We could look at the way traffic flows and how streetlights are synchronized as one way.

The point being is that small incremental steps will due more – in the long run there is less system shock.

Suzuki has good literature on sustainable development – the problem is getting people to implement it. They don’t buy what they don’t think they want.

Friday, July 21, 2006 4:37:00 PM  
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