A left-wing think-tank is out with a new report calling for an expensive “green industrial revolution” in hopes of eventually reducing Canada’s carbon emissions to near zero by mid-century.
Under the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' (CCPA) plan, funding for new government spending in green energy projects, subsidies for building retrofits and massive public transit expansion would come from a carbon tax of $200 per ton by 2020.
“That’s the engine that makes it go,” said the report's author, Marc Lee.
Lee acknowledged the tax would cause transportation costs to spike.
“That would basically make Canadian gas prices more like gas prices in Europe,” said Lee.
On average, a litre of fuel costs the equivalent of almost $2 in the European Union, according to the European Commission’s online energy portal.
To offset the resulting increases in almost every consumer category, Lee said half the carbon-tax money raised would be redistributed to low- and middle-income households.
The right-wing Fraser Institute think-tank scoffs at the scheme.
“It’s kind of socialist industrial policy in the guise of addressing climate change,” said Joel Wood, a senior economist with the think-tank.
Wood said the plan would only slow down the economy by making almost everything more expensive.
If oil prices stay high, Wood said the carbon tax still would not stop all new oilsands activity – one of the CCPA’s targets.
“That’s probably why they call for a moratorium on those types of projects,” said Wood.
What upsets the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is that the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council funded the CCPA study.
“Their approach is frighteningly predictable, but it's easier to understand when you see that they get most of their funding from government and government employee unions,” said Gregory Thomas, the federation's federal director. “Why doesn't the CCPA turn its attention to better management and better value for money?”