Friday, June 12, 2009

Poll Shows Carbon Tax Support Growing in Canada

Following up yesterdays post on the video of Michael Adam's remarks at the "Decoding Carbon Pricing" a global warming conference in Vancouver, the Environics poll he referenced is posted. It is part of their "Canadian Environmental Barometer" that they do monthly.

B.C. already has a carbon tax and Alberta has a de facto carbon tax of $15/tonne on heavy emitters but it is intensity based which does not reduce carbon in absolute terms. The Harper Conservatives have recently come forward and are suggesting a Cap and Trade model response to carbon emissions. I personally prefer a tax for reasons I will explore in subsequent posts.

Here is what the Environics poll found about attitudes towards a carbon tax. First B.C. residents initially and pre-recession, were supportive of a carbon tax with 54% Strongly or somewhat support for the tax. That combined support dropped to 40% in July 2008 as the recession was upon us, even though Harper was denying the fact. In May 2009 the B.C. combine support is back to 48% for this example of Premier Campbell leadership on climate change.

The support for a carbon tax in the rest of Canada is approaching 50% as of May 2009. The more interesting poll results are from Alberta and Saskatchewan, the home of oil sands a.k.a. "dirty oil" where support for a carbon tax is growing. In Alberta the Feb 08 combined support was 38% and 57% opposed. By July 08 support had fallen to 27% with opposition growing to 69%. Now the Alberta numbers are 44% in support with 53% opposed. The remarkable jump in Alberta support is 17% in less than a year and the recession is not over yet.

Saskatchewan has gone from an early supprrt of 42%, dropping to 29% and rebounding to 42% now.

I can do no better than Environics VP Keith Neuman who is quoted as saying "this latest survey demonstrates that it is premature to 'write off' carbon taxes as a failed climate change policy in Canada."

Harper is touting Cap and Trade in anticipation of a pending election - my betting in is a Nov 9/09 election BTW. I wonder if Harper is picking the right option for fighting climate change given this shift in sentiment about a carbon tax alternative. Keith Newman again: "Taxes of any kind will never be vote-winners, but the outcome of the recent B.B. provincial election validates Premier Gordon Campbell's decision to stick with a tax-based approach to fighting climate change in the face of serious opposition."

Will any federal party, other than the Greens, will have the courage and character to advocate for a carbon tax as policy in the next federal election? I wonder if this poll result will at least get the parties re-thinking their positions.