Monday, June 23, 2008

Forget that it's a Liberal plan..... it's a better reality

I've always wondered what would happen as fossil fuels become rare. Would our culture hide their collective heads in the tar sands and act like nothing was wrong? Would the fossil fuel industry try to squeeze every dime out of our pockets until the stuff runs out, then shrug when the wells went dry? Would we in North America continue to be coddled with unrealistically low prices for fuel (you read that right - go look at what Europe pays for their energy)? There is currently nothing to motivate anyone, consumers nor industry, to get moving more quickly on alternative technologies and energy sources. Energy utilities complain that energy sources like wind are too unreliable instead of finding ways to store the energy until it's needed like Europe is doing with cold storage. Where is our geothermal? You can't tell me we have none. Consumers complain that the road infrastructure is inefficient and in need of desperate repair, but continue to elect governments that spend more money on freeways than efficient mass transit solutions. Many major cities in Canada don't even know what an HOV lane looks like.

So when I hear that our Federal Liberal party has a new idea in the form of a carbon tax shifting from revenue-based tax, I'm interested. Their plan in a nutshell is "Consume lots of bad stuff and pay lots of taxes... Consume less bad stuff and pay less taxes". I don't really have a problem with this. If my total fuel costs went up several hundred dollars a year under the new plan, I would be much better motivated to reduce my use and find alternatives to carbon-based energy. Keep in mind that the plan intends to shelter low income folks from the pain.

The Liberals could go one step further and offer incentives to Canadians who invest major capital expenses to reduce their carbon footprint, such as installing solar, wind, geothermal and buying hybrid technologies. I don't buy the Conservative argument that making fuel more expensive will hurt our economy because we will get some of that money back in the form of less income tax, and fuel will still sell in piles to places like the US, who are quite willing to buy their fuel from a friendly country like Canada even if the price is a wee bit higher.

For me this is not so much a partisan issue as a plan that, while not perfect, it is a step in the right direction. You can check out the basics of the plan here.

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