At 12:01 on Canada Day the price of gas at pumps throughout British Columbia rose by an additional 2.4 cents, all thanks to the new provincially implemented carbon tax. Now several weeks after the fact, this green government initiative is likely old news to most consumers. Whether you’ve made the effort to cut back on driving or simple swallowed the extra fuel costs, life in and out of vehicles rolls on.
But no one, it seems, regardless of their income bracket, likes to be taxed more than they already are. That’s probably why following this fuel price hike and the send-out of millions of $100 one-time climate action credits, consumers are still grumbling.
This summer, I began work as a teller at a local bank and for one week at the end of June was faced with an onslaught of these $100 government-issued cheques. Along with them came a torrent of customers complaining about our province’s new greening policies. “I feel like sending this back!” one outraged customer told me. Another said that they’d heard that some British Columbians actually had. Others came into the bank and cashed the cheque out immediately – “off to do some shopping” or “going out for dinner” they’d tell me with a smile. Still more would deposit these cheques into their savings accounts, make bill payments or put the $100 towards their VISA. Which made me wonder just how much environmental good this one-time gift of $100 is actually doing.
The BC Liberal government claims that the new carbon tax is revenue neutral. The rise in prices at the pumps, BC’s finance minister Colin Hansen claims, will be offset “for the vast majority of British Columbia families” by a lowering of income taxes as well as the $100 cheque mail-out. At the same time, the government hopes that consumers will see this rise in fuel prices as a reason to cut back on driving, adopt more environmentally friendly transportation habits, and consequently reduce their contribution of vehicle emissions.
Doing some simple math, it’s clear that the $100 climate action credit will offset the rising cost of fuel in British Columbia temporarily: with the implementation of this new 2.4 cents per litre tax, we can expect that the average consumer with a 50L tank and who fuels up once a week will, over the course of the next twelve months, spend only an additional $62.40 at the pump.
(2.4 cents per litre) x (50 litres per fill-up) x (52 fill-ups per year) = $62.40
This $62.40 would in turn be offset by the $100 climate action credit, even with some money for “environmentally friendly lightbulbs” or “locally grown produce” leftover (as per the recommendations made by the BC Liberals in the recycled paper pamphlet sent along with each individuals climate action gift). However, that’s not to say that in future months the price of oil on an international scale won’t continue to rise as well, nor will the new carbon tax be offset further in the future based solely on income tax cuts.
Whether the implementation of this new fuel tax will actually live up to its good intentions has yet to be determined, but one thing our provincial government has certainly made clear is that the environment now stands as one of its top concerns. This is hopefully a reflection of the people of British Columbia’s priorities too. This new tax and its subsequent financial perks may make you smile (or grumble), but as a whole there’s some hope for collective progress on the road towards positive change.
As for the rising costs of pretty much everything fuel-reliant, maybe there’s actually a good reason for why money is synonymous with the environmentally friendly colour green…