British Columbia's Carbon Tax Cuts Petroleum Use by 16.1 Percent


The fourth anniversary of British Columbia’s carbon tax — the only one of its kind in North America – was marked with an increase on July 1 that raises the tax on gasoline a penny per litre to 6.67 cents ($0.25 per gallon). The tax has been controversial from the start, and it is no less so now four years into the program. The B.C. government, headed by the Liberal Party, has launched a comprehensive review of the tax, but with an election coming up next year the voters could have the final say.

The tax started at a price of $10/tonne on carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, and with the July 1 increase is now up to $30/tonne. Income tax breaks and credits are provided to consumers and business intended to make the carbon tax revenue neutral, but last year’s $1.15 billion in tax cuts and credits exceeded the $960 million in tax revenue. Morevoer, it is not clear whether the tax is having the intended effect of actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A June 27 report,  British Columbia’s Carbon Tax Shift: The First Four Years, by Sustainable Prosperity concluded that the tax has produced substantial enviornmental benefits by reducing B.C. residents’ use of petroleum fuels by 15.1 percent, and by 16.4 percent compared to the rest of Canada. The report concludes that B.C.’s economic growth has been slightly ahead of the rest of Canada, indicating that while the the tax has not had a positive effect on the B.C. economy, neither has it had an adverse effect. In addition, the provincial government has returned more than $300 million in tax cuts than it received in carbon tax revenue. The report concludes the carbon tax shift “has contributed to noteworthy environmental gains, and lower overall taxes, without evident harm to B.C.’s economy (and potentially improving its future positioning,” but suggests detailed economic analysis is necessary.

While the B.C. government, currently headed by the Liberal Party, has undertaken a comprehensive review of the carbon tax, there also is an election next year and the carbon tax could be a key issue. The Liberal Party wants to keep the tax, while Conservative leader John Cummins, whose party vows to repeal the tax, recently called it a “job-destroyer and hugely unfair to anyone outside of metro Vancouver who depends on a car. Said Cummins, “It is not a good tax, which is why we’re the only jurisdiction in North America with a carbon tax.” The opposition New Democratic Party, which campaigned against the tax in 2009, now wants to keep it, but with some revisions such as elimination of corporate tax breaks.

At this point it’s hard to tell who is right, and in large part the outcome of the provincial election and the tax will hinge on public perception. On that score, however, there may be some differences between policy makers and the public. The Pembina Institute produced a June 25 report, British Columbia’s Carbon Tax, which relied on interviews with 39 participants from business, government, and academia. The results differ in some signficant ways with the results of an April 2011 public opinion poll. In the interviews, 65 percent of the participants had a somewhat or very favorable view of the overall consequences of the tax, while only 33 percent of the public opinion poll respondents were positive to somewhat positive. Similarly, when asked whether the tax should increase beyond the new July 1, 2012, rate, 41 percent of the interview participants agreed, while only 29 percent of the public poll did.

While more rigorous modeling and study are needed, in the rough-and-tumble political world where messaging counts for almost everything, a detailed study of the tax may have less effect ultimately than how B.C. voters feel come next spring.


Mike Nesteroff is chair of Lane Powell's Sustainability and Climate Change Team

The 2016 Washington Manufacturing Awards: Legacy Award

The 2016 Washington Manufacturing Awards: Legacy Award

Winner: Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group
Legacy Award
Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group
Auburn ›
When it’s time to make doughnuts — or loaves of bread, or sheets of rolls — it could well be a Belshaw Adamatic piece of equipment that’s turning out the baked goods. From a 120,000-square-foot plant in Auburn, Belshaw Adamatic produces the ovens, fryers, conveyors and specialty equipment like jelly injectors used by wholesale and retail bakeries.
The firm’s two legacy companies — Belshaw started in 1923, Adamatic in 1962 — combined forces in 2007. Italy’s Ali Group North America is the parent.
It it takes work to maintain a legacy. A months-long strike in 2013 damaged morale and forced a leadership change. Frank Chandler was named president and CEO of Belshaw Adamatic in September 2013. The company has since strived to mend workplace relationships while also introducing a stream of new products, such as a convection oven, the BX Eco-touch, with energy saving features and steam injection that can be programmed for precise times in baking. The company energetically describes it as “an oven that saves time, reduces errors, makes an awesome product, and is fun to use and depend on every day!”
So far, more than 3,000 have been installed in quick-service restaurants, bakeries, cafés and supermarkets in the United States. They are the legacy of Thomas and Walter Belshaw, former builders of marine engines, who began producing patented manual and automated doughnut-making machines in Seattle 90 years ago. They sold thousands worldwide and, today, Belshaw Adamatic is the nation’s largest maker and distributor of doughnut-making equipment.