[07/25/2013 12:14 PM – please note update below]
I first encountered Elgie and his enchantment with BC’s carbon tax a little over a year ago. He is the founder of an organization with the very green tinted name of “Sustainable Prosperity“. And he seems to have a knack for grabbing the media’s attention with his so-called “reports” – and other highly dubious advocacy ventures, the most notorious one of which was confirmed by BC’s Auditor General in April of this year.
Today, Elgie released a new “report”. And, right on cue, Canada’s national broadcaster, the CBC in its infinite green wisdom gave his latest opus far more coverage than it deserves:
B.C. carbon tax cut fuel use, didn’t hurt economy
Research report asks premiers to discuss carbon tax at summit
Sustainable Prosperity has released a report that shows since the carbon tax shift was introduced in 2008, B.C.’s consumption of fossil fuels has been reduced nearly 19 per cent per capita compared to the rest of Canada, while the province’s gross domestic product has kept pace with the country’s.
The report is the basis of an article to be published in the next edition of the journal Canadian Public Policy. Elgie said the group wanted to get the results out now so it can inform the environmental strategy discussions at the premiers’ summit starting Wednesday in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
[But at least he concedes, well sort of:]
Elgie admits that with only four years of data, he can’t say for certain the changes in fossil fuel use in B.C. are entirely attributable to the carbon tax, but he’s confident most of them are. [emphasis added -hro]
Perhaps this minor concession was to avoid the embarrassment of having fellow green-dreamer, Mark Jaccard (about whose latest “revisionist” antics please see Donna Laframboise’s recent post) contradict him – as he did Elgie’s June 2012 report (from my footnote here):
“It would be shocking if a carbon tax had made a difference in a couple of years and it hasn’t,” [Jaccard] said.
But facts don’t seem to matter much to Elgie, who appears to have convinced himself that he knows best! Particularly when it comes to what he calls the “success” of BC’s unwanted and unwarranted carbon tax (not to mention the other legislated lunacies that are part and parcel of the same “package”).
The “centrepiece” of this year’s edition of Elgie’s glowing report is a graph:
Notice the “fine print”, folks! Statistics Canada is known to be very reliable as a source of data. However, based on Elgie’s past performances, I would not be inclined to trust the “author calculations” any further than I could throw them!
You see, Elgie’s 2013 report claims (p. 8) that:
BC has brought in a serious policy to curb fuel use and GHG emissions – that seems to be working. It has a carbon price that is higher than anywhere else in North America, and most other countries in the world. Yet there is no evidence at this point that it is harming BC’s economy10
[and here’s the text of the footnote:]
That is not to say that no firms or households have experienced adverse economic impacts. No doubt some have. But the economy-wide impacts from the tax shift seem to have been neutral or positive [emphasis added -hro]
Yet, following a “review” of this tax last year, the BC government in its Budget 2013 – June Update (pdf) has acknowledged:
Economic analysis conducted for the carbon tax review indicates that BC’s carbon tax has had, and will continue to have, a small negative impact on gross domestic product (GDP) in the province. Increasing the carbon tax beyond the current $30 per tonne would have a stronger negative effect on economic growth.
As an aside, it’s worth noting that Elgie’s report makes references and comparisons to the (positive, of course!) effects of carbon taxes in Europe, which suggests that he’s definitely not au courant with developments there! Whereas at least those responsible for the authorship of the BC government Budget 2013 – June Update are somewhat more in touch with reality!
But even so, this is a rather rose-tinted assessment, as Willis Eschenbach has shown in a recent series of articles at WUWT:
Unlike Elgie, Eschenbach doesn’t do agenda-driven chutzpah (such as declaring that a “negative impact” is “neutral or positive”). And unlike Elgie’s, Eschenbach’s series of articles are well worth reading – particularly if (unlike the CBC) you’re interested in facts:-)
UPDATE: CBC and green-heart-on-sleeve climate modeller, Andrew Weaver continued to promote Elgie’s fantasies as though they were factual. Elgie had released his “report” with much fanfare – prior to publication in a journal you’ve probably never heard of – because he wanted it to “inform” a gathering of provincial premiers. So CBC dutifully regurgitated:
No carbon tax rise, despite program’s success
Study finds B.C.’s carbon tax has not hurt the province’s economic growth
B.C. Minister of Environment Mary Polak says her government will stick to its promise to freeze the carbon tax for the next five years, despite a new study which finds it is reducing emissions.
The study from the University of Ottawa concluded that since B.C. introduced the carbon tax shift in 2008, the province’s consumption of fossil fuels reduced nearly 19 per cent per capita compared to the rest of Canada.
Meanwhile British Columbia’s gross domestic product has kept pace with that of the whole country.
The study’s co-author Stewart Elgie said this proves the B.C.’s carbon tax is working to reduce emissions, without hurting the provincial economy.
Green MLA and climate scientist Andrew Weaver believes given those results, the province should increase the tax to encourage even more carbon reduction.
“Without any doubt, the higher the carbon tax, the greater the impact,” says Weaver.
While for some strange reason (a Weaver “communication block” edict, perhaps?!) no comments are permitted on this further promulgation of green propaganda, the video at least gives airtime to a critic of Elgie’s failure to note (and Weaver’s inane oblivion to) the significant adverse effects of the increase cross-border fuel fill-ups.