What's that Carbon Tax Gonna Cost?

Last week the Trudeau Government announced their brand new anti-climate change initiative, which included a significant hike in the carbon tax. As we discussed at the time, the plan is to increase the current tax of $30 per ton by $15 per year until settling (for now) at $170 per ton.

This is a big increase, but to most people those numbers seem entirely theoretical. A ton of carbon emitted sounds like a lot, and the average Canadian probably sees those numbers and figures that, since his car and furnace together don't emit that much, this doesn't affect him. Of course, this is exactly how Trudeau wants people to approach the issue.

But to set the record straight, Kris Sims of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has helpfully scaled those numbers down to the individual level. Here's what she came up with:

Right now, the federal carbon tax is at $30 per tonne, resulting in a tax of 6.6 cents per litre for gasoline and 8 cents per litre for diesel.... At those rates, filling up a minivan costs nearly $5 extra in the carbon tax, filling a light duty pickup truck costs $8 more and a super duty diesel pickup costs $14 more.... So, now that the feds are going to increase the carbon tax to $170 per tonne, what happens to these everyday costs?

This hike will put the carbon tax up to more than 37.5 cents per litre for gasoline, 45 cents per litre for diesel and 32.8 cents per cubic metre for natural gas. That means that very soon it will cost you $27 extra to fill up a minivan, $45 extra for a light duty pickup truck and $204 extra to fill just one diesel fuel cylinder on those big rig trucks that deliver everything from furniture to food across the country. Remember: this is just for the carbon tax. This doesn’t include the cost of the fuel, other taxes, the GST or the incoming second carbon tax that Trudeau’s government is creating. How many people have an easy extra $45 to fill up their trucks to go to work?

What, me worry?

And that's just for your vehicle. What about keeping your house warm? Sims lays that out as well:

When it comes to heating a home with natural gas, the carbon tax often costs more than the actual fuel being used. Homeowners in British Columbia sent the Canadian Taxpayers Federation their natural gas bills to show the costs. One of the bills showed an average-sized home in Gibsons using 466 cubic metres for one winter month last year, resulting in a carbon tax bill of $35. The homeowners had only used $27 worth of natural gas....

With a carbon tax of 32.8 cents per cubic metre of natural gas, it would cost that homeowner in Gibsons $150 extra in the carbon tax for just one winter month’s worth of natural gas. Based on the average annual use of natural gas in new Canadian homes, it would cost homeowners more than $885 extra in the carbon tax.

Canada is, of course, one of the most northerly nations in the world, but Gibsons, B. C., the town she uses as an example, is hardly one of the coldest areas in the country. In places like Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Arnprior, Ontario, those numbers are going to look at lot worse.

Trudeau Announces Massive Carbon-Tax Hike

Back in April we reported on the Trudeau government's odd decision to go ahead with their plan to double the federal tarbon Tax in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic that had wreaked havoc on the Canadian economy. Why, we wondered, would they push forward with a plan that would make the lives of regular Canadians more expensive at a time when so many people were losing their jobs? Why add a further layer of uncertainty to an already unstable market?

Unfortunately the prime minister's instincts haven't improved in the past nine months. While we have a much clearer picture of the virus than we had at the time, and improved treatments as well, the Canadian economy has been slowly strangled by government imposed lockdowns.

Justin Trudeau has attempted to counter this by increasing spending, which he's financed by massively increasing public debt. According to the Fraser Institute's Livio di Matteo, "federal net debt for 2019-20 was close to $800 billion and for 2020-21 will likely exceed $1.1 trillion." Provincial debt too has significantly increased, from $700 billion to over $800 billion, and the two combined are nearing 90 percent of GDP, a level not seen since the debt crisis of the early 1990s. Just as in that crisis, Canada has already seen its credit rating downgraded.

But even as things get increasingly desperate, the Trudeau government has refused to tap the breaks on his disastrous climate agenda even slightly.

Just the opposite, in fact. For the most recent example, today the government released its newest climate plan, entitled "A Healthy Environment and A Healthy Economy." Its goal is "to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030," and it proposes to do this by, first, increasing (debt-financed) spending by $15 billion, and second by dramatically increasing the carbon tax.

The tax had been projected to increase from its current level of $30 per ton to $50 by 2022. According to the new plan, however, that amount will jump by $15 every year until it reaches $170 per ton in 2030, with the object of "wean[ing] consumers off fossil fuels in favour of cleaner energy sources." Of course, those cleaner energy sources don't yet exist, at least not in forms that would allow them to replace fossil fuels. (Also they aren't really cleaner).

It is interesting to note that even the CBC, Trudeau's cheerleading news organization that it is, does mention the impact this will have on Canadian consumers:

The tax hike will result in higher costs for consumers when they buy gasoline. The price at the pump will increase by 37.57 cents a litre by 2030 as a result of this new plan, and the cost of light fuel oil for home heating, natural gas and propane will rise as well.

The current average gas price in Ontario is $1.19 per liter, so a 38-cent increase is massive. And of course the price for heating homes and businesses in one of the most northerly nations in the world will also increase significantly.

Right now Canada is being crushed under the weight of the pandemic and the lockdowns. The Trudeau government is insisting on increasing the load. Will Canadians ever say, enough?

Thanks Again, Fracking!

In a recent article in the Toronto Sun, Lorrie Goldstein comments on a surprising fact: that Justin Trudeau, the dream political leader of the environmental lobby, is going to have to concede that Canada has missed the emissions reduction target it agreed to in 2009, while America -- after four years under Donald J. Trump -- will actually exceed that target. Says Goldstein:

This despite the fact Trump, unlike Trudeau, never imposed a national carbon tax on the U.S. Nor has any American president done so. Also, despite the fact Trump, unlike Trudeau, announced he was withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement in 2017, saying it was contrary to the economic interests of the U.S.

The 2009 targets, negotiated by the prime minister and the president's respective predecessors as part of the Copenhagen Accord, informally committed both nations to reduce emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. While America's emissions projections for 2020 are about 20 percent below 2005 levels, Canada's projections are down only 0.14 percent. For Canada to meet its commitments for 2020, Goldstein points out, "we would have to cut our current emissions by 123 million tonnes — the equivalent of the annual emissions from our entire agriculture sector and most of our electricity sector — in less than a month."

How could this be? Well, part of the story of America's success (if you could call it that) is the government imposed Covid-19 lockdowns. Goldstein mentions that U. S. emissions for 2020 are down roughly 10 percent from where they otherwise would have been without the lockdowns, which sounds great until you consider the economic devastation they also wrought. The cure in this case was far worse than the disease.

Of course, Canada also locked down and had an equivalent emissions drop. Which is to say, the pandemic doesn't even begin to tell the full story.

What actually happened is that, while the Trudeau government dove deep into virtue signaling environmentalist rhetoric, the U. S. allowed "market forces, innovation and [smart] energy policy" to do their work. Among other things, the U. S. leaned in hard to hydraulic fracturing, allowing us to gradually transition away from our reliance on coal towards natural gas, which "burns at half the carbon dioxide intensity of coal."

Meanwhile in Canada, Goldstein points out, "several provinces have banned fracking," bowing to anti-fracking sentiment in the green movement, while the Trudeau government has imposed a national carbon tax (and doubled it mid-way through a global pandemic), and put real political capital into transitioning away from oil and natural gas, which accounts for roughly 10 percent of the nation's GDP.

It'd be nice if more environmentalists started recognizing (as Michael Schellenberger has) that their preferred methods of addressing these issues are mostly hokum and started advocating for policies which actually work. Both don't hold your breath. Most of them are just hypocrites who mindlessly condemn President Trump as a Captain Planet-style villain, while lauding all of the Trudeaupian fluff.

Cracks Appear in the Climate Consensus

On the face of it, international progress towards a global consensus on reducing carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 in order to restrain the rise in world temperature to between 1.5 and 2.00 degrees above pre-industrial levels is about to be resumed after a four-year interruption. When President-Elect Biden overcomes the remaining legal hiccups to take office on January the 20, 2021—as I am assuming he will —his first acts will include returning America to its observance of the Paris climate accords. Since 195 other nations have already signed on to the Accords (and everyone has agreed to treat them as a treaty, even if a non-binding one), it’s full speed ahead to a net-zero carbon world.

Or so it would appear.

This global pact rests on strong support from the world‘s governments which in turn rest on a firm consensus of political parties, scientists, officials, “Green” activists, and the media that a net-zero carbon policy is essential in order to avert a global climate catastrophe. This consensus is so universal that anyone who dissents from it, even a distinguished scientist or a Nobel Prize winner, risks being treated as a dangerous eccentric and finds it hard to get a hearing in respectable forums. Demands are sometimes heard that such people be kept off the airwaves altogether or even prosecuted for “climate denialism.” Fortunately, there are very few such eccentrics.

As green as they come.

Not that those within the consensus deny that the net-zero policy has problems. On the contrary everyone acknowledges that it will require quite heavy sacrifices from the ordinary citizens in their countries in the form of higher taxes, higher energy prices, and lower living standards. But these sacrifices will be worth it not only because they will avert a global catastrophe but also because Boris Johnson’s “green industrial revolution” or (according to taste) Joe Biden’s “Green New Deal” will create well-paying jobs in cleaner green industries such as windfarms.  And the last obstacle to this green utopia in the form of President Trump has now been removed.

Thus ends my rather bland outline of the Authorized Version of climate change politics. If we examine it critically, it surely becomes clear very quickly that it rests on two unsteady supports: the strength of the establishment consensus and the electoral popularity of a policy of transitioning to a net-zero carbon economy. Both seem strong at present. As climate skeptics such as Allister Heath in the London Daily Telegraph have conceded, the elites on both sides of the Atlantic have committed themselves wholeheartedly to the consensus; and a poll taken before the recent U.S. election showed that America voters were greener than ever before:

Seven in 10 voters support government action to address climate change, with three-quarters wanting the U.S. to generate all of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind within 15 years.

In both cases, however, there are grounds for predicting that trouble lies ahead. Take, first, the establishment consensus. That is far from being a spontaneous embrace by almost all scientists and economists (climate policy being a blend of both disciplines) of manifest truths. Nor could it be, for a variety of reasons: science itself offers only provisional truths; climate science alone covers a wide range of scientific disciplines; and even the U.N. IPCC reports offer a range of possible outcomes with varying degrees of probability attached to each.

When its tentative and uncertain conclusions disappear and re-emerge as government policy, they have become firm doctrines (e.g., outlawing the U.K. sale of petrol-driven cars after 2030) enforced by quite strong sanctions: the granting or withholding of official contracts; appointments to official boards, university posts, and the civil service; publication in scientific journals; threats to employment and promotion; and even a de facto censorship of heretics in mainstream and official media. It’s hardly surprising that few people contest the establishment consensus when there are serious risks and no practical benefits in doing so. What’s surprising is that some do.

The whole world is watching.

Who are they? Usually, the first critics of the consensus are natural heretics who look at any powerful structure of ideas maintained by force and try to find cracks in it. Others join them because they may have either economic or intellectual interests in doing so—a naturalist opposes windfarms because they kill birds, for instance.

Some people working to advance the policy discover flaws or scandals in its operations and resign to oppose it from outside. Then there are journalists, natural heretics often, but looking for a good story always. Finally, there are critics who are simply very clever people who notice things and realize they don’t add up. And when all these “types” start examining climate policy and how it’s going, they find all kinds of risks being taken and mistakes being made.

Of course, there have been sharp-eyed critics of  “climate change” alarmism—and of the policies intended to ameliorate it—from the first: former U.K. finance minister Nigel Lawson who founded the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Danish academic Bjorn Lomborg who founded the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, and the late Nobel Laureate Freeman Dyson, who thought for Princeton.

But their numbers have been growing in the last year. The American environmentalist, Michael Shellenberger, announced his de facto resignation as a leading environmentalist by writing his book,  Apocalypse Never. Its theme, echoing Lomborg's, is that climate change is a serious problem but not a looming catastrophe requiring drastic emergency measures.

Dieter Helm, the Oxford professor who was commissioned by the U.K. government to report on British energy supply chains and climate change, has now written a new book, Net Zero: How We Stop Causing Climate Change that challenges the central orthodoxies of the Western establishment’s climate policy. In a review on the U.K .Reaction website, Jack Dickens writes:

Two fatal flaws in the current global approach are emphasized in Helm’s book – the focus on reaching Net Zero carbon emissions while maintaining high levels of carbon consumption, mostly through off-shoring carbon-intensive activities, and the faith in a symbolic but ineffectual top-down approach to solving the climate conundrum, as exemplified by grand United Nations summits in Paris and Tokyo. The result, he argues, has been the creation of an illusion that something is being done while individuals and governments are consistently failing to take decisive measures.

And the U.K.’s main conservative papers in the Telegraph group—papers read by Tory activists and thus important to Tory politicians—have started to take a more skeptical view of Boris Johnson’s boasted “green industrial revolution” in op-eds by three of its star columnists—former editor Charles Moore, Sunday Telegraph editor Allister Heath, and columnist Matt Ridley. It doesn’t amount to a complete conversion; the Telegraph’s formidable financial columnist, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, remains on Boris’s side. Still, all three have written strong criticisms of the government's net-zero policy recently, and Ridley offered an especially scathing critique of ten reasons why it’s a mistake.

Ridley, who moonlights as a member of the House of Lords, is the author of several well-regarded books on science of which the latest, How Innovation Works, is highly relevant to the climate debate. He takes aim at Boris’s ideas on  innovation in climate policy with a double-barreled shotgun. The first barrel demolishes the Prime Minister’s own proposed innovations:

Innovation will create marvelous, unexpected things in the next 10 years. But if you could summon up innovations to order in any sector you want, such as electric planes and cheap ways of making hydrogen, just by spending money, then the promises of my childhood would have come true: routine space travel, personal jetpacks and flying cars. Instead, we flew in 747s for more than 50 years.

The second barrel aims at Whitehall’s neglect of more realistic innovations that get no money or attention in the green industrial revolution:

My fear is that we will carry out Boris’s promised 10-point plan, cripple our economy, ruin our seascapes and landscapes, and then half way through the 2030s along will come cheap, small, safe fusion reactors.

It’s a bracing attack from a government supporter, friendly fire in fact, and taken together with the other skeptics, it’s a sign that the establishment consensus is showing some cracks. In part, these criticisms are a reaction to the fact that policies like net-zero carbon are ceasing to be distant possibilities and becoming real prospects. No sale of petrol-driven cars is only nine years away. And as Dr. Johnson wrote two centuries ago, when a man knows he will be hanged in the morning, it concentrates the mind wonderfully.

Mind, concentrated.

But surely these policies are popular with the voters? Wasn’t that the story of the U.S. opinion poll quoted above? How can a popular policy be reasonably compared to being hanged in the morning?

The answer to that objection is a rule that I’m thinking of calling O’Sullivan’s Second Law. It goes as follows: The popularity of a policy is less important than the popularity of its consequences.

How popular are the consequences of a policy of net-zero carbon by 2050 likely to be? It is hard to estimate that because governments constantly evade answering the prior question of what will be the costs of going net-zero in terms of higher taxes, higher energy prices, and a lower standard of living. They concede in a vague and slightly noble way that people will simply have to make heavy sacrifices, but they don’t want to put a figure on it.

That’s not surprising. When the New Zealand government did just that, it discovered, according to Lomborg, that getting to carbon neutrality would “cost more than NZ$85 billion annually, or 16% of projected GDP, by 2050. That is more than last year’s entire national budget for social security, welfare, health, education, police, courts, defense, environment, and every other part of government combined.”

Sixteen percent of projected GDP annually. That’s what you call political suicide. No policy that requires it will remain popular. It runs up against Stein’s Law formulated by the late Herb Stein, a distinguished American economist: ““If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”

It can’t go on. Long before 2050, the net-zero policy will have to be abandoned. And the longer that political establishments cling to its defense, the worse the resulting crash will be.

Child Soldiers of the Revolution

Despite her best efforts, all's been quiet on the Greta Thunberg front during the Covid-19 pandemic. The problem is that her I'm-sacrificing-my-education-to-travel-around-saving-the-world schtick doesn't go down so well when international travel is restricted and lots of kids are locked out of schools by government order, not to mention selfish teachers unions.

Even so, Greta has pioneered a practice which we can expect to see more of -- using children as human shields in the climate war. The idea is that their emotional appeals will tug at the heart, and fog the mind, until any attempt to engage their arguments is met with horror and reproach.

For just one example of Greta's progeny at work, see this report about a judge in Ontario who defied recent federal court precedent to allow a lawsuit brought against the province by two minors (and five "youths") to go forward. The suit alleges that "the Ontario government’s 2018 reduction in its climate-change target by 15 per cent violates their constitutional rights to life, liberty and security of the person."

Retired litigator Andrew Roman comments,

The exploitation of children to front a lawsuit in this way is ethically troubling. If this case goes to trial and sets this dangerous precedent, why not have children in Calgary sue to set aside the carbon tax or the Clean Fuel Standard or Ottawa’s hyper-regulatory Bill C-69 because they kill any prospect of their employment in the oil industry and thereby infringe their constitutional rights? It does not take a lot of imagination to invent such misuse of children for numerous future cases that are essentially political theatre.

Of course, as the mainstream media has a near monopoly on framing cases like this in the popular mind, you can imagine how they would portray any child who brought forth an anti-Carbon Tax lawsuit on these grounds -- as a poor dupe being cynically manipulated by some adult with an ideological ax to grind. And they might well be right. It's just unfortunate that they promote such cynical manipulation of children when it's their own ideology on the line.

The Swamp Strikes Back

Joe Biden has started to announce appointments to key roles in his administration should he be inaugurated in January. He finds himself constrained by the unexpected failure of his party thus far to retake the senate and its reduced majority in the House.

Consequently, it doesn't look like we will be seeing Elizabeth Warren at Treasury, Bernie Sanders at Labor, or -- a popular rumor over the past few weeks -- Hillary Clinton as Ambassador to the United Nations. But instead of those ideological actors, we're getting mostly career political staffers and bureaucrats, aka the Swamp.

The big fish thus far is longtime Biden ally Antony Blinken for Secretary of State. Blinken -- the son of wealthy investment banker and Clinton-era Ambassador Donald Blinken -- served as then-Vice President Biden's national security adviser before being promoted to Deputy Secretary of State by Barack Obama. He is also a Russia hoax-supporter and an ardent champion of the kind of hawkish foreign policy which Trump ran against in 2016. As The American Conservative's Curt Mills wrote this morning, the worry about Blinken isn't so much that he's a "wild-eyed radical," but that "his policy views are emblematic of a broader rot within the American establishment."

The same could be said for the the other intended appointments announced on Monday, including former Foreign Service Director General Linda Thomas-Greenfield to the U. N. and former Hillary Clinton foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan. The latter, as you might have guessed from his relationship with Mrs. Clinton, is another hawk, but he is also noteworthy for having had a hand in secretly negotiating the Iran deal, which the U. S. has since backed out of.

Environmentalist groups are upset by the potential appointments of both Sullivan and Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), who Biden has announced as a senior advisor, as both are reportedly skeptical of their cause. Sullivan appears in one of the leaked Clinton E-Mails questioning the idea that carbon neutrality by 2050 is at all realistic. As for Rep. Richmond, environmentalists are concerned by his closeness with oil and gas in his home state of Louisiana. The Sunrise Movement, an environmentalist activist group, put out a statement opposing his appointment which read,

One of President-Elect Biden’s very first hires for his new administration has taken more donations from the fossil fuel industry during his Congressional career than nearly any other Democrat, cozied up to Big Oil and Gas, and stayed silent and ignored meeting with organizations in his own community while they suffered from toxic pollution and sea-level rise.

Now, should those of us who are concerned about the resource sector as a source of good jobs and safe, reliable (and clean) energy be encouraged by these appointments? Probably not. There's a civil war brewing on the left, which has been held in check until recently by shared loathing for Donald Trump. Though Biden might feel forced staff up with conventional swamp creatures, before too long he will feel the need to satisfy the loudest lefties in his caucus. Short sighted as they might be, carbon taxes and increasing restrictions on fracking are the easiest bones he can throw them.

Of course, for the Greens, those would only whet the appetite.

A Test Drive for Net-Zero

Proposals for going green and hiking taxes—they seem to go together—rain down as gently upon us as leaves in Autumn. In Britain, as I mentioned last week, the Finance Minister, Rishi Sunak, is looking at new ideas to charge motorists for—wait for it—driving on the roads.

There will soon be s a $50 billion tax hole in his budget as a result of the government-mandated switch from gas-powered cars to electric ones by 2030. That date was moved forward from 2035 in a speech this week from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his “green industrial revolution,” i.e., the U.K. equivalent of America’s Green New Deal that Joe Biden has been promising.

Boris’s speech unveiled a whole armory of exciting new green measures—summarized coolly in the London Sunday Telegraph by "lukewarmer" Matt Ridley as “all Britons driving electric cars powered by North Sea wind turbines and giving up their gas boilers to heat their homes with ground-source heat pumps. [Plus] He will invent zero-emission planes and ships.”

Are having fun yet?

Viscount Ridley suspects that not all the prime minister's hoped-for innovations will come to pass. As a strong believer in the importance of innovation himself -- his latest book is on that topic -- he thinks that we'll be happily surprised by some innovations by 2030, and we shouldn't take rash and expensive decisions that will foreclose those possibilities now. Equally, however, we shouldn't bet the bank on innovations that may never pan out despite our best efforts.

That's one cautionary truth. Another is that we can be pretty certain that these exciting new green measures Boris announced will likely bring forth a lot of exciting new green problems. Among them is that drivers won’t be paying the fuel taxes they pay now if they’re driving electric vehicles. That's why, to fill that budgetary hole, the finance minister is thinking to tax road use.

There must have been a hostile reaction to this leak because the next day the Times published a nervous follow-up:

Drivers would support a national road-charging system providing that it was not simply used as a “cash cow” by the Treasury, ministers have been told.

Of course, any new tax would be used by the Treasury as a “cash cow” if only because the U.K. is going to have to finance the economic effects of the lockdown one way or another. That’s a given. Also, governments like green taxes because they attract almost automatic support from green parties, pressure groups, and public opinion.

Road pricing has both green and attractive economic features as an alternative to other forms of taxation. As Dr. John Walker argues in his RAC Foundation study, On the Acceptability of Road Pricing:  It’s “technically successful; meets objectives ranging from managing congestion to raising revenue to fund road improvement; need not be prohibitively costly; and once in place, tends to gain public acceptance”

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

As that guarded last comment suggests, however, it’s got some difficult features too. Switching from fuel taxes to road pricing is a problem in itself. Fuel taxes are simple to pay and to collect. Road pricing means that both government and the motorist have to install equipment to record the costs of journeys and to charge for them. It’s a more visible cost than when it’s paid as part of a price for petrol at the pump.

If the road pricing system is variable, moreover, imposing higher costs on cars sitting in traffic and lower ones on cars going along empty roads at off-peak periods, it will be more efficient, but it will also be more unpopular with the general public. Differential pricing of that kind makes economic sense because it discourages congestion and makes for more pleasant driving and less wasted time. But the public sees it as unfair because it penalizes those drivers who have to work regular hours and travel at peak hours, and they are often the poorer members of society.

And it’s being proposed at the wrong time. Motorists already feel under threat as many of the costs of Boris’s green industrial revolution end up being paid by them. If gas-fueled cars won’t be available from 2030 onwards, those owning such cars will find spare parts more expensive, gas stations fewer in number (and more distant), and gas prices higher. In the end they’ll have to purchase an electric vehicle if they want to continue driving.

Many of them—I’ve seen estimates as high as one-third of U.K. current drivers—will find buying an EV requires a serious financial sacrifice. Those who are unable to get a decent price for the resale of their petrol-driven cars will be in even worse financial straits. On top of these shock demands on their wallets, they will see the addition of road pricing as an intolerable extra.

It’s bound to provoke resentment among those financially hard-pressed drivers who find themselves paying heavy bills to use the roads that their taxes have already built in order to keep the economy moving today. That’s not entirely speculation. As the Times recalled late in the story: “The Labour government ditched similar plans for road charges 13 years ago after a petition attracted 1.8 million signatures.” Bringing in road pricing in such circumstances would risk a British version of the gilet jaunes suburban and provincial riots that have now lasted almost two years in France.

Coming soon to a country like yours.

Road pricing is not the villain in this mystery, however, though it may be the victim (murdered by numerous Acts of Government.)  The main super-villain, lurking in the background, is the decision taken with all-party support in Britain, echoed in similar decisions taken in Brussels and (shortly) in Washington, to aim for a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 which is both unachievable and certain to reduce living standards brutally. The lesser villain which is Son of the First is the decision taken by fiat of the present British government to switch to all-electric cars from 2030 onwards.

It is frivolity on stilts and bound to have terrible results: a hugely expensive electrification of Britain, power supplies nonetheless inadequate to cope with additional demand from EVs nationwide, electricity blackouts on a regular basis, increases in both taxes and electricity prices to pay for this transition, the spread of job losses in the industries that use power, etc., etc., in addition to the problems for motorists and taxpayers described above.

There is only one silver lining to this thunderstorm of clouds: when the policy of forced sales of EVs crashes into reality, it might compel the  Johnson government to reconsider not only that policy but also the larger futility of dragging down the U.K. economy and standard of living by depriving it of the cheap energy that most of the world will still be using.

Switching to EVs is a kind of test drive for the new kind of economic policy: not the betterment of the people but the moral preening of the elites. We'll see if the net-zero carbon economy has survived its first run round the track by, say, January the 1st 2031.

From Canada, 'Green Hypocrisy'

From our friends at True North:

When it comes to the environment and climate change, it feels like we’re constantly being lectured, by journalists, politicians and activists.

We’re told that our way of life is unsustainable, that we only have a few years to act, and that we’re facing an existential crisis, not just as a country, as a species and a planet.

We’re told that if we don’t follow the exact prescription handed down to us by, quite frankly hysterical activists, that it is because we are either too stupid to understand the problem or too evil to deal with it.

We’re told that the science is settled and any dissident thinking is the equivalency of Holocaust Denial.

This investigative documentary series explores the polices, the activists, the organizations, the governments, the international institutions and the global climate lobby to try to understand whether they are actually working for the good of the planet, or whether they are motivated by something else altogether.

Here's the link to the first episode:

 

Green Pen, Green Phone

On Wednesday I mentioned that Democrats were disappointed by the failure of their projected blue wave to materialize. Their congressional majority has been whittled down to almost nothing, the best they can hope for in the Senate is a draw, and in the presidential race, the decisive rejection of Donald Trump they were hoping for didn't happen.

What's more, less radical (or more pragmatic) office holders, like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), have been arguing that the Green New Deal, along with other extremist proposals like Medicare for All and Defunding the Police, are the reason they fared so poorly.

But, of course, backing off on such proposals, which might make the party more attractive to actual voters, would alienate the leftist donor class. So what is the solution? Executive orders of course! Faced with a similarly divided government, Barack Obama proudly proclaimed that his administration was

[N]ot just going to be waiting for legislation.... I've got a pen and I've got a phone… and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions.

In various liberal publications right now, the details of a Biden administration's own climate-related "pen and phone" strategy are being hammered out.

To take just one example, in the Los Angeles Times, Anna M. Phillips has a list of five climate actions Biden can take immediately, "without Congress’ help." These include imposing California's onerous auto emissions standards nationwide; halting the issuance of new permits for fracking and oil drilling on federal land (a position Biden stumbled his way onto over the course of his campaign), as well as imposing new regulations on oil and gas companies operating on existing federal permits (decidedly not something he campaigned on); declaring a climate national emergency; and creating a "climate club" of countries who mutually agree to reduce carbon emission through carbon taxation.

On this last point, a club would have two uses. First, if all nations involved impose carbon taxes on themselves, none can reap the economic rewards of being a cheaper and easier place to live or do business. And second, each one can mutually agree to punish any other country that attempts to get a leg up on the others, "through trade measures such as tariffs" in Phillips' words. It is worth noting that leftists have already started making lists of countries they want to see punished in this way -- see this Vox article entitled "How Joe Biden could make Brazil his first “climate outlaw.”

By the way, if you're surprised to see Brazil as the highest climate priority, rather than mega-polluter China -- the world's second largest economy -- you'll be doubly so to read through article and see China mentioned as a potential ally against Brazil. This is as good a detail as any to demonstrate that this isn't really about the climate, it's about power.

So, while AOC's legislative Green New Deal might be D.O.A. in Congress, the Executive Green New Deal is rarin' to go. We will all suffer the consequences.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Distancing

Oh, Boris, you have got to be kidding me! I thought we went over this… herd immunity only comes if we have exposure. I don’t understand how he thinks it’s OK to shut us down again. The small businesses that managed to survive will surely perish in an additional lockdown.

Now what? No restaurants, no gyms, and no chance I can return to California any time soon. Worse yet, this means daddy is having one of his crusty old MP friends round -- to discuss god knows what… probably the 2008 Climate Change Act,  which apparently never changes. And Judith (mummy) is headed to a friend’s house for a socially-distanced coffee; and to avoid getting the dreaded Covid from daddy’s MP friend.

And that’s the thing Boris doesn’t understand… the behaviours of a virus, and the behaviours of a people. Let alone the fact that he wasn’t elected Prime Socialist. But with daddy’s meeting now moved here, I’ll just stay up in my childhood room and avoid all of it.

I want you... to stay at home and cower in the face of the dreaded Covid!

I don’t know how long daddy’s friend was downstairs but I woke up with my legs over the exercise ball and a crick in my neck. Is this what you wanted Boris? I decided to head downstairs and see what we were doing about dinner. Judith’s coffee must have turned into a gin and tonic. She’s nowhere to be found and daddy reported we have frozen steaks and fish fingers, but he’s sure everyone that was open yesterday is doing delivery today. He clicked off the radio and announced,

“We had to know we couldn’t trust a fat man who bicycled around London to be a true conservative.”

“Daddy!”

“Have you seen his bum on a bike or one rational decision since he caught the dreaded Covid? No, you have not.”

I hadn’t. And I knew the £800m cycling initiatives were mostly Sadiq Khan and not Boris but daddy would make the point that the invading cycle lanes had ruined London, and he would be right.

“Well, we know what we are getting with Biden at least” I beamed, “…and it will be fantastic for the environment.”

“Yes, fantastic”, he scoffed. “He promised to decimate the energy industry and I’m sure he’ll do damage enough. Unlike your boyfriend Trudeau… who promised legalised pot and Canada was too stoned to realise that when Alberta goes, so too goes Canada.”

... to ride a bicycle in the dark and the rain.

I knew on this point he was right. I’d heard he and Patrick discussing the death of so many pipeline projects in Canada compared to the very real gains in the US, better for the economy and the environment.

“Well, be that as it may”, I began, “having a green president in the White House has got to be a good thing at the end of the day.

“Got to be?”

“Yes!” I said emphatically.

“Yes, indeed. Let’s look at… you, shall we? You’re a U.S. taxpayer now, and forgetting that your energy-efficient flat and car were provided by the money your dear father earned as a geophysical engineer and responsible oil executive… what will be the really big gains? Top three…”

I ran through a million things in my head, knowing that they all led to higher taxes, lower profits, and business busting results. But I wasn’t giving up on my beloved planet that quickly.

“ Well… upgrades to infrastructure, and a carbon tax, and jobs guarantees…”

“That’s three taxes actually. But the point is I want you to think about the consequence of your passions. The consequence of a carbon tax will mean higher airline fares and might mean fewer seminars for your clients, fewer clients, less income… you see the result, yes?”

"Yes, of course but what’s the alternative?”

“The alternative to what? Socialism?”

“Daddy, it’s not the planet or socialism -

“No, but everything you suggested is,” he said, with a sad finish.

Forward, into the glorious energy future of a carbon tax!

I can’t talk to him when he’s like this. And also I didn’t have any good argument. I went back up to my childhood room to change for dinner and decided to find some evidence in my favour before I let it rest.

My search just kept taking me to coal vs natural gas, and although I already knew that some radical environmentalists despised natural gas, I also  knew their argument was indefensible.

I had covered all this with my father years ago, lest I continue to go on making unfounded arguments. Truth was, that by every metric natural gas is cleaner than coal, it emits 40X less sulphur dioxide, a fraction of the nitrous oxide, almost no mercury, less water, and it’s why carbon emissions from energy declined. Perhaps I’m not in the mood to be right.

Just then I noticed a text from a client asking how I was, and if it was true that Christmas was cancelled in England? Boy, she had some nerve! I had half a mind to write back and ask if it was true that Thanksgiving was cancelled in New York or only moved outside? But I realised that would be as tough to swallow as dry turkey. And mean.

Lockdown redux was getting to me. But apparently not to Judith who I heard coming in downstairs, and by the sound of it had many bags with her. I scrolled past another article entitled How Greed, not Greenpeace Saved the Whales. OMG enough for tonight. I hope she bought cake.