Al Gore Champions Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax

“We should tax what we burn, not what we earn. This is the single most important policy change we can make.”

- Al Gore, Former US Vice President and 2008 Nobel Laureate

Given the debate over British Columbia’s carbon tax, we’re highlighting the opinions of some of the world’s top leaders on climate change solutions and their thoughts on carbon tax policy. And who better to look to than the Nobel prize-winning former US Vice-President Al Gore.

Gore has long been an outspoken champion of the idea of a revenue-neutral carbon tax that shifts the tax burden away from things like income and small business tax and puts it on the consumption of fuels that emit heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

In a speech Gore gave last summer at the Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, he explained that:

“Of course, we could and should speed up this transition by insisting that the price of carbon-based energy include the costs of the environmental damage it causes. I have long supported a sharp reduction in payroll taxes with the difference made up in CO2 taxes. We should tax what we burn, not what we earn. This is the single most important policy change we can make.” (my emphasis)

As John Lauhmer at Treehugger explains Gore’s carbon tax position:

“As a not-running-for President guy, Al’s in a position to be logical about the best public policy to drive climate action: a carbon tax. No Democratic candidate can come out for a carbon tax because he or she would be attacked for being a ‘tax and spend liberal.’ And no Republican candidate can come out of the carbon tax closet because…you know…tax cuts.”

Boehner: What's the Big Deal with CO2, Anyways?

The award for this week’s most understated headline goes to Politico’s Lisa Lerer for this little doozy: “GOP grapples with climate confusion.” Though little of her article actually breaks new ground, it perfectly encapsulates the Republicans’ current predicament – that of being stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to taking action on climate change.

On the one hand, the Republicans need to marshall their resources and come up with a coherent alternative to the proposed Democratic plan, lest they wish to lose the PR game and suffer another legislative defeat in the House of Representatives (the Senate, unfortunately, will be a much larger hurdle to overcome); on the other, they need to be wary of not alienating their base by devoting too much time to addressing a “hoax.”

When It Comes to Climate Change, Catholics Get It

According to a recent Zogby telephone survey of over 1000 American Catholics, 55% agree that climate change is a serious problem, versus 22% who do not.

Catholics in the U.S. are also clear on climate science, with 60% recognizing that human activity is a significant contributor to climate change versus 21% who do not believe that. These results are interesting at a time when, according to a Gallup poll, 41% of the overall population believes that the issue of global warming is being exaggerated by the media, despite that according to scientists and journalism scholars, the media has actually underplayed the seriousness of the issue.

Catholicism has a history of finding the intersections between science and faith and climate science offers just such an opportunity. This is particularly true when environmental interests are framed as protecting God’s creation, with three-quarters of Catholics embracing the concept of stewardship of the planet.

And consistent with the longstanding Catholic tradition of concern about the poor, the Zogby poll shows that there is particular worry about the impact of climate change on the poor, both in the U.S. and globally, with almost two-thirds surveyed believing that their faith requires them to be concerned about the effects of global warming on the most vulnerable communities.

It may also explain why more than half of Catholics surveyed believe that wealthier nations have a special obligation to help poorer countries deal with the repercussions of climate change.

Carbon Tax: (Unlikely) allies throw BC NDP a lifeline

The BC NDP have been offered two elegant lines of retreat from a damaging and divisive election policy condemning BC’s continent-leading climate change carbon tax.

First, Metro Vancouver mayors have let it be known that they would like the revenue from the carbon tax to pay for regional transit. That’s a perfect solution for the NDP. Rather than maintaining their opposition to the tax - and continuing to sow outrage among erstwhile environmental supporters -NDP leader Carole James could acknowledge the merit of the mayors’ request and agree to leave the tax in place, redirecting its proceeds to transit options.

The second potential lifeline came in a column from Victoria Times-Colonist editorial page editor Dave Obee, who pointed out the elemental weakness of the NDP’s position and advised: “The best bet for the NDP would be to quietly drop the talk about the carbon tax and suggest other ways to curb emissions.”

Jaccard: Voters being misled on BC climate policy

“I know this sounds cynical. But politicians implementing a carbon tax face a great risk that unscrupulous political opponents will mislead the public by claiming we can reduce emissions without taxing gasoline, conveniently failing to mention that their cap-and-trade alternative should have the same upward effect on its price for the same emissions reductions.”

That quote is from an opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun today on BC climate policy and the current BC election, by Simon Fraser University economist Dr. Marc Jaccard.

Jaccard writes:

“A recent B.C. NDP press release states that Canada’s National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (on which I serve) “clearly supports” the NDP’s climate policy proposal to scrap the carbon tax and that I am Premier Gordon Campbell’s ‘top adviser’ on B.C.’s carbon tax. Neither of these statements is true.”

While the BC NDP will no doubt try and paint Jaccard, an internationally respected academic on climate policy, as some how in bed with the BC Liberal government, the reality is that Jaccard has worked to advise the BC government for many years, including previous NDP ones.

As Jaccard rightly point out:

“Of course, the NDP did not call me Campbell’s ‘top adviser’ from 2001 to 2006 when I repeatedly criticized his ineffective climate policies of that period. But now that I am applauding his recent climate policies and sharply criticizing the NDP’s alternatives, their strategy is to claim I am no longer independent.”

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