Have some thoughts about Bill McQuarrie’s North Island Rising column? Email editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish it online and in print. (Bill McQuarrie photo)

Have some thoughts about Bill McQuarrie’s North Island Rising column? Email editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish it online and in print. (Bill McQuarrie photo)

North Island Rising: Carbon pricing

“I’ve been fortunate enough to hear from and talk with all sides of the climate discussion”

What if, horror of horrors, we’ve got this whole carbon-pricing thing wrong? And what if many of those who don’t believe in climate change are actually more concerned about the impact of carbon taxes on their lives then they are about the negative impacts of climate change?

A recent study shows that 34 per cent of Canadians either don’t believe in or are only mildly concerned about climate change. The 66 per cent who feel climate change is a major threat say the science is irrefutable. Admittedly, I’m on the irrefutable side but I’m beginning to think I’ve made a mistake in supporting carbon pricing as a solution. Let me explain.

As a journalist, I’ve been fortunate enough to hear from and talk with all sides of the climate discussion. I’ve seen links to scientific and pseudo scientific sites tossed about on social media that claim to be the definitive proof of a particular opinion.

Everyone claims expertise and knows someone who knows someone who talked to someone who knows a scientists who told them.

However, in the midst of the short-tempered vitriol that is now so common on social media, I have noticed a recurring theme and a repeated demand. No matter how detailed and lengthy the argument against the existence of climate change is, in the end there is almost always a demand for the withdrawal of the carbon tax. That tax is the inescapable foe.

It is the flag to which climate counterclaim arguments rally around and I have started to wonder if denial is simply the ground on which to fight a tax and political battle as opposed to the climate battle.

And so I began to wonder what would happen if the flag was removed from the field of battle.

The current carbon tax system has some significant inequalities, especially if you live in a rural setting. In addition, it has not lived up to the promise of investments in clean technology, transparency and the promised but never again mentioned, revenue neutrality.

Admittedly, it does encourage conservation but the model is based on threat and punishment. The amount paid is somewhat under your control. However, given the size of our country (transportation) and severity of our winters (heating), we will be punished for the fickle fate of geography we all share.

So what would happen if we changed the carbon tax model from punishment to a reward model? The carbon – one size fits all – tax for consumers is abolished and replaced with an incentive model.

Lower your consumption and you are rewarded with tax credits. Chose not to increase or decrease your consumption and nothing happens, including no tax credit. Increase your consumption and much like luxury taxes on expensive homes and fancy cars, you will have to pay extra for the privilege.

Punishment, which takes money out of your pocket, is showing signs of becoming part of the problem instead of the solution. And shaming is simply the fastest route to entrenched polarization.

That leaves us with an incentive system, rewarding healthy behaviour and putting money back in people’s pockets. And while I’m not an economist, I have a suspicion it would actually cost less, obtain better results and improve the situation faster than the punishment model.

Bill McQuarrie is a former publisher, photojournalist and entrepreneur. Semi-retired and now living in Port McNeill, you can follow him on Instagram #mcriderbc or reach him at bill@northislandrising.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
Investigation at burned Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

“it’s believed that the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby is the deceased”

The Rein Forest Riders fence in Hyde Creek was damaged by a vehicle on the night of Jan. 15. (Lynn Iskra Facebook photo)
Port McNeill RCMP looking for suspect who damaged Rein Forest Riders property in Hyde Creek

“it’s certainly unfortunate, and it’s going to be a tough one because nobody saw anything.”

PROFILE PHOTO COURTESY OF KIMBERLEY KUFAAS PHOTOGRAPHY 
Tyson’s Thoughts is a column posted online at northislandgazette.com and in print on Wednesday’s. Have some thoughts about my thoughts? Email editor@northislandgazette.com
If fish farms are phased out, what does the future hold for Port Hardy?

“I hate seeing the town I grew up in take serious economic damage”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Email letters to editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish online and in print.
LETTER: Homelessness still a problem in Port Hardy

Dear editor, I have been watching the news and homelessness seems to… Continue reading

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Most Read