British Columbia was the first jurisdiction in North America to implement a carbon tax on citizens.
BC is the spiritual home of the green movement in Canada (it’s where David Suzuki lives), so they believed the government line about the new green tax being revenue neutral and allowed the government to tax the snot out of the economy to prevent minuscule amounts in emissions of a trace gas essential to life on Earth.
Fast forward two years and BC Premier Gordon Campbell has gone, quit in the aftermath of another tax grab – the much despised HST. Liberal candidates are lining up to be considered for the open Premier position, but this time candidates are talking about dialing back green policies, even reversing the carbon tax. BC’s political class have decided that leading the green charge is something of a losing proposition:
“I think there is clear evidence there will be some rethinking of the government’s overall approach to climate policy, of which the carbon tax is just one component, which we would encourage,” said Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president, policy, at the Business Council of British Columbia. “While there are certain advantages to having a carbon tax, it doesn’t make sense to have a made-in-B.C. carbon tax when nobody else is following your lead.”
The highlighted sentence above will put a chill into the hearts of warmists everywhere – if climate policy can be reversed in BC it can be reversed anywhere, with the possible exception of dysfunctional California.
With Republicans back in power of the House of Representatives and looking at ideas to rein in the EPA and even reversing the ban on incandescent light bulbs, green policy is suddenly in the position of having to defend itself as a good idea. Green ‘solutions’ like carbon taxes, wind, solar and ethanol subsidies are difficult to make a case for even in great economic times, which these are definitely not. The only way to sell these green ideas was when people overwhelming believed that the science on global warming was ‘settled’. Climategate changed that and climate scientists learned the hard lesson that trust is hard to recover when people feel duped.
Before the economic meltdown and Climategate, going green was a simple equation for career-minded politicians – a few eco-soundbites and a photo-op with a local hippie was all it took to convince people that they cared about the environment.
Now potential GOP presidential candidates are fleeing their old positions on cap and trade because the green message has lost its luster – forever tarnished by scientists behaving badly and the endless line-up of alarmists who willingly attribute anything, everything to global warming. The general populace are suffering green fatigue and the politicians in BC can sense the change in the air. Two years ago it would be unthinkable for a Liberal BC politician to suggest axing the carbon tax but in 2011 it’s the new reality of politics.
Green is no longer a vote winner in the greenest province in Canada – if the carbon tax is axed there then green policies across North America will fold like a house of cards. The political class is the last hope of the warmist cause, but real votes count for more than feelgood rhetoric and silly stunts by hippies. Keep an eye on British Columbia for it is the canary in the coal mine for green politics.