Carbon Tax May Anger Voters

Publically questioning climate change, computer-modelling of global warming, and human causation largely from fossil fuel usage is now guaranteed to start an emotional argument.  The United Nations, reportedly forecasts a global apocalypse from failure to act.  Yet resistance to government efforts to force reductions in fossil fuel use, especially by some sort of ‘carbon tax’ has increasingly become front page news.

At the time of writing, something called the ‘yellow vest’ protest in France continues over new fuel taxes imposed, said French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, not “for the pleasure of annoying the French, but because we want to tax carbon more than labor.”  The sheer numbers involved in the French protests have caught international attention.  From media sources, it is suggested that over 300,000 people responded to the call by grassroots movements on both sides of the issue for a national ‘Day of Action’.  On November 18th at over 2,000 locations around France; highways were blocked; police used tear gas; and one fatality and over 400 injured including emergency responders were reported.

Some significant number of Canadians, presumably no less determined to resist any new tax, have been making their point opposing ongoing efforts to impose a federal carbon tax.  Ontario voters recently kicked out carbon-tax-endorsing politicians, and the list of opposing provinces has continued to grow. “The carbon tax is so toxic” say pundits, “it is shaping up to be the defining issue of the 2019 elections.” Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was quoted as saying, “there is nowhere in the world that a carbon tax is popular. …  And it becomes more unpopular every single day it is in existence.”

Meanwhile, the business and financial newspaper back-sections contain reports and analysis adding complication that could ultimately intensify such resistance.  Reports on the annual outlook of the International Energy Agency released this past week say, “it forecasts a 10 per cent increase in oil demand between now and 2025, …[and] Even if 300 million electric cars are in place by 2040, “petrochemicals, trucks, planes and ships [will] still keep overall demand on a rising trend.”

The IEA goes on to say, “the only risk to rising oil supply … is not peak oil … [but rather] government policies that fail to provide the regulatory environment for more oil production.”  At the moment, however, geo-politics and the relatively recent massive surge in US oil and gas production, are driving a world oil production revolution that is tending towards at least stabilizing supply (if not taking it to storage level capacity) thereby supposedly reducing prices.

In short, governmental efforts to limit or curtail fossil fuel production and usage are being offset by market forces and influenced by some major government leaders driving the opposite direction.  It would seem therefore, that any democratically elected government believing it could survive imposing, on top of today’s relatively low market price of fuel, a carbon tax per litre of $12.00 to $15.00 may not do so well in any upcoming election.