Who’s monitoring what?

This week we travel back in our Climate Time Capsule to remember the Kyoto (Whatch-ya-call) Protocol, where some countries signed on but lost interest in – and the papers, which were supposed to be signed by everyone involved – but which the likes of the US, China, and India didn’t even show up to sign!

Then there was the parade of the Grande Poupons in Paris late last year, when 195 countries agreed to do, well, basically nothing.

And then, just last week, we were informed of the Vancouver Declaration, which I prefer to call the Vancouver Demarcation in which the Trudeau-led gathering of 10 provinces and three territories agreed to meet in the fall after delegating working groups to work on something so they can, well, meet. The Vancouver Demarcation took on the characteristics of a sports card show held in the back room of a bowling alley, with carbon trade offers being whispered with the same secrecy and guile one would have when negotiating a trade for a Gretzky rookie card. I use the term demarcation because the attendees had all their personal political territories etched out when it came to the purpose of the meeting, which was a pan Canadian framework for combating climate change. But all they got right was the panning part.

In the coming months leading up to the new carbon taxes being imposed in some provinces (some provinces already have them in place), we’ll be deciphering exactly what it all means through various communiques. For now, I will hit on some of this complex, infuriatingly confusing new tax grab that’s taking hold of the country’s imagination – or stagnation?

We had B.C. hinting to their neighbours in Alberta that perhaps a bitumen pipeline could be a reality if Alberta would trade for all the excess B.C. hydro that has nowhere to go. The premier of Saskatchewan said that a carbon tax is already in place in the province’s carbon capture program but was willing to trade approval of the Energy East pipeline for a $1 billion bailout of the carbon spewing airliner industry in the form of a large, key industry aerospace company. Nova Scotia claimed that their hydro costs applied by Newfoundland and Labrador are so excessive that here too, there is already a carbon tax.

To top it all off, even if they agreed on a carbon tax, they can’t even agree what form it should take. My confused mind has come up with some questions:

  • How much carbon needs to be reduced?
  • Where would a consumer go to find out?
  • Does our largest trading partner, the US, have a carbon tax, or are they even considering one in an election year?

It looks to me like this is a moving target, but we don’t know where the target is. According to the Quebec and Ontario cap and trade programs in place (or proposed), a $0.04/L additional tax on gasoline and $0.053/L on diesel will cover it for the refining industry.

  • Where do they get this number from?
  • How will this affect the carbon in our atmosphere?
  • Where will all the money go? Into “infrastructure?” That is too vague.

The same questions should be posed to all manufacturers of any goods consumed by the person who pays the additional cost – that’s all of us – the consumers!

The cap and trade methodology is subject to political maneuvering because high profile industries will be able to cleverly side step the full cost and impact by political declaration – those being key industries and employers.

In B.C. they have a flat carbon tax, which revenues go to lowering other taxes such as personal taxes.

On the other hand, it is claimed that the cap and trade system revenues will go into the catch all infrastructure folder, or for the “development of solar and wind energy alternatives.”

The cap and trade revenues are in danger of falling into the “general revenues” folder, a filing system the general public should both generously question and fear.

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Roger McKnight is the Chief Petroleum Analyst with En-Pro International Inc.
Roger has over 25 years experience in the oil industry, and has held senior marketing management positions responsible for national and international accounts. He is the originator of the card lock concept of marketing on-road diesel that is now the predominant purchase method of diesel in Canada. Roger's knowledge of the oil industry in North America, and pricing structures has resulted in his expertise being sought as a commentator by local, national, and international media. Roger is a regular guest on radio and television programs, and he is quoted regularly in newspapers and magazines across Canada.

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