This is a shift for Dion. Previously, only Canada's Green Party supported that type of tax.
Election results indicate the "carbon tax" is a loser. The Conservatives gained 16 seats and the Liberals lost 19. The Conservatives still lack an absolute majority, holding 143 seats to the Liberals 76, with 89 in the hands of three minority parties, the Quebec separatists (50), the New Democrats (37), and the Independents (2). The Greens have zero seats.
As readers of this Blog know I favor a punitive tax on burning of sequestered carbon (oil, gas, coal) as a way to encourage development of nuclear energy and renewable energy (water, wind, biofuels, ...).
All energy used on Earth (with the exception of nuclear) is originally from the Sun.
Some of this energy was delivered to the Earth from the Sun eons ago and was sequestered in the form of carbon and hydrocarbons found in underground deposits of oil, gas, and coal. That carbon was removed from the Earth's atmosphere and, until the industrial age, remained there.
We are now burning increasing amounts of sequestered carbon to energize our mechanized civilization. It is spewing into the atmosphere in the form of man-made carbon dioxide, a "greenhouse gas". Increased levels of carbon dioxide have been detected and are certainly responsible for some percentage of the rise in worldwide temperatures. (The majority of the temperature rise is probably due to Sun and Earth-orbit effects that are beyond our control, but we can control some of the "greenhouse" effects of release of sequestered carbon.)
Nuclear energy is carbon-neutral, and it should be used to reduce cabon emissions, but it is, ultimately, non-renewable.
Until earlier this year, sequestered carbon energy from oil, gas, and coal was considerably less expensive than alternative fuels, which discouraged development of more wind, solar, nuclear, and other sources. The recent spike in oil prices altered that equation, and, as energy prices skyrocketed, many people changed their driving habits and gasoline usage dropped a bit. Interest in alternative energy sources increased.
However, the recent worldwide economic downturn has driven oil prices from about $140/barrel back down to about $70/barrel, half their peak levels. If they remain at these low levels, development of alternate energy will be endangered.
We need to reduce our dependence on sequestered carbon, a non-renewable resource. We must instead power our civilization with the renewable energy that arrives daily from the Sun. As you know, hydroelectric energy is driven by the Sun, which evaporates water from the sea and delivers it as rain that drives our rivers. The Sun also powers the weather, which causes winds that we can capture with wind turbines. Biofuels (including corn and sugarcane-based ethanol) are also powered by the Sun. When we burn biofuels we do release carbon into the atmosphere, but it is carbon that was recently removed from the atmosphere when the crops were grown. As a long-term goal, we may be able to grow crops and then bury them as a way to re-sequester carbon out of the atmosphere.
There are two ways the government can encourage alternative energy. The first is to subsidize it and the second is to punitively tax sequestered carbon as a way to make alternative energy relatively less expensive and allow market forces to do their magic. I favor the second approach. An added benefit of a punitive tax on sequestered carbon is that it will increase the rewards for energy conservation.
According to Wikipedia
The intention of a carbon tax is environmental: to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and thereby slow climate change. It can be implemented by taxing the burning of fossil fuels — coal, petroleum products such as gasoline and aviation fuel, and natural gas — in proportion to their carbon content. Unlike other approaches such as carbon cap-and-trade systems, direct taxation has the benefit of being easily understood and can be popular with the public if the revenue from the tax is returned by reducing other taxes.As a C-mind, I find it somewhat distressing that my support of a punitive "carbon tax" puts me with the Green Party and Liberal Party of Canada, and other L-minds like President Bill Clinton, and Senators Al Gore and John Kerry. However, Wikipedia notes:
A carbon tax is an indirect tax — a tax on a transaction — as opposed to a direct tax, which taxes income. As a result, some American conservatives have supported such a carbon tax because it taxes at a fixed rate, independent of income, which complements their support of a flat tax.
Prices of carbon (fossil) fuels are expected to continue increasing as more countries industrialize and add to the demand on fuel supplies. In addition to creating incentives for energy conservation, a carbon tax would put renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal on a more competitive footing, stimulating their growth. Former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker suggested (February 6, 2007) that "it would be wiser to impose a tax on oil, for example, than to wait for the market to drive up oil prices."