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Carbon Tax Questions

I received my natural gas bill yesterday. For the last month, spanning parts of January and February, the coldest stretch of winter, I used $31.58 worth of gas to heat my home and provide hot water. (In summer months, it is often less than $10.) The gas company charged me an additional $67.97 to deliver the gas to my home, which seems excessive. I guess pipelines are expensive.

I was also charged $24.43 in carbon tax, $.40 in a clean energy levy (whatever that is), and an additional $6.20 in GST. In other words, I spent almost as much in taxes as I spent on gas. The federally mandated carbon tax is currently calculated at $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 and will rise to $50 per metric tonne by 2022. However, I am in British Columbia, where the carbon tax is currently $40 per tonne and is scheduled to rise to $50 by 2021. That means that in a little over a year, I will likely be paying more in tax than I will be paying for gas. Experts say that to actually achieve Canada’s carbon reduction goals, the carbon tax would have to increase to about $150 a tonne.

I have a small house, about 1600 square feet (slightly smaller than Justin Trudeau’s house, but then taxpayers are paying his gas bill and his carbon tax). I have added whatever insulation I could and added a second layer of windows, years before there was a carbon tax. What else can I do? Stop heating my house? Shower in cold water? (We are already washing our clothes in cold water.) A tax to force people to change their behaviour can only work if there are viable alternatives to switch to.

I could spend $8,000 to upgrade to a more energy-efficient furnace, but my furnace expert tells me that the savings would be minimal and the furnace would likely only last about ten years. (My current furnace is about 45 years old.) Furthermore, any reduction in my carbon footprint would likely be offset by the carbon emissions created in the manufacture and transport of my new furnace.

I could spend $10,000 to install solar panels on my roof and switch to electric heating, but that would likely save me at most only a little money on my monthly heating bills (it rains most of the winter here in British Columbia), and I simply don’t have the $10,000. Too often, “going green” is a rich man’s luxury and a poor man’s burden.  

The carbon tax is supposed to force Canadians to reduce their carbon footprint. But I have already done everything I can reasonably do and can reasonably afford to do in order to reduce my carbon footprint. So, tell me: what earthly good is that $24 a month I am paying in carbon tax actually doing? How is me paying tax to the government saving the environment?

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