British Columbia’s Carbon Trading System did not make the B.C. Liberal Government Carbon Neutral

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 30th, 2013

Week in Review

Something the American left really wants is a carbon trading system.  For this in conjunction with a national health care system would give the government great control over the private sector.  Because health care is one-sixth of the U.S. economy.  And everything takes energy.  So everything would be subject to the government’s carbon oversight.

A carbon trading system would basically turn carbon emissions (i.e., polluting greenhouse gases) into a commodity.  If you want to pollute you must pay to pollute.  By buying carbon permits to pollute.  Or paying carbon taxes.  Those who pollute heavily must buy more permits/pay more taxes.  Those who pollute less buy fewer permits/pay fewer taxes.  The idea is to take money from the polluters to give to others to reduce their carbon emissions.  Thus giving everyone an incentive not to pollute.  And a net zero carbon emission.  But in reality it’s just another way for government to pull more wealth out of the private economy so they can spend it how they want to spend it.  Rewarding their campaign contributors.  And providing businesses access to unneeded subsidies (see Auditor general delivers damning report on B.C.’s carbon trading system, Crown corporation that managed funds by Gordon Hoekstra posted 3/27/2013 on The Vancouver Sun).

B.C. auditor general John Doyle delivered a damning report Wednesday on the province’s controversial carbon trading system and the Crown corporation Pacific Carbon Trust.

The report concludes the government did not reach its goal of carbon neutrality in 2010, the year under examination, because the carbon offsets it purchased that year were not credible…

…NDP environment critic Rob Fleming said it’s time to look at changes to the PCT, including ending transfers of public money for emission-reduction projects.

He was referring to the fact that the carbon trading system involves transferring public money from institutions like hospitals and universities to the private sector so the government can declare the public sector is carbon-neutral…

Under the carbon system, public institutions such as hospitals and universities have so far paid more than $50 million for their carbon emissions. That money has been used to fund greenhouse gas reductions projects at private sector pulp mills, sawmills, gas drilling rigs, hotels and greenhouses.

The idea is the reduction projects in the private sector offset emissions in the public sector to zero, allowing the B.C. Liberal government to claim it is carbon neutral.

That’s a first.  Transfer money from sick people to give to businesses in the private sector.  So hospitals can pollute.  Kind of a strange thing for a government to do that puts profits before people.

Of course the big question is who measures the change in carbon emissions?  And how?  For you can’t put a carbon meter on your business.  It takes math.  And some assumptions.  You can tie it to one’s electrical consumption.  But if the user is attached to a section of grid powered by both a coal-fired power plant and a nuclear power plant that’s more math.  And more assumptions.  Did your power come from the polluting coal-fired power plant?  Or the emissions-free nuclear power plant?  And what about burning fossil fuels?  Did the fuel someone burn come from a refinery that processes a high-sulfur oil (sour crude)?  Or a low-sulfur oil (sweet crude)?  More math.  More assumptions.

When it comes to carbon emissions you can’t really measure emissions.  You have to measure inputs.  Such as electric power.  Consuming a lot of electric power could put a lot of carbon emissions into the air.  But not where the consumer uses that electric power.  But back at the power station that produced that electric power.  So who pays those carbon permits/taxes.  The user?  Such as a hospital?  Or the power plant?  Or both?

Anything so complicated makes it easier for people to game the system.  Which is what is happening in Canada.  And why despite spending C$50 million of public money the B.C. Liberal government is not carbon-neutral.

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Save the Economy or Save the Planet, it’s One or the Other

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 5th, 2011

Pushing back against the EPA’s Assault against Business

With the economy in the toilet where it will probably remain for a long time to come, a lot of people have given up on environmentalism.  They take a look around them and see that things look pretty good.  Environmental-wise.  In fact, it’s a regular paradise compared to all the environmentalists’ alarmist predictions from a decade or two ago.  Which look rather silly today.  Children in the UK will no longer know what snow is.  The overwhelming stench of dead fish decaying on America’s beaches (killed by warming ocean temperatures).  Flooded coastal areas due to melting of Arctic ice.  None of it happened as predicted.  We got all worked up over nothing.  That’s why environmentalism is more of a young person’s game.  Because after you lived through 20-30 years of failed predictions, you tend to grow a little skeptical.  Especially during times of high unemployment.

That’s why a lot of people don’t give a rat’s rear end about global warming now.  They want a job.  And the way they see it, all this environmentalist nonsense is killing the job market.  And the Republican-controlled House they’re starting to push back on the job killer itself.  The EPA (see Soaring emissions posted 6/2/2011 on The Economist).

The Republicans’ chief concern is the EPA’s authority, as affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2007, to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases. But more broadly they worry that the EPA is constantly tightening restrictions on pollution, at ever higher cost to business but with diminishing returns in terms of public health. They point to a slew of new rules about industrial boilers, cooling water at power plants, the disposal of coal ash, and emissions of mercury, ozone and other chemicals from smokestacks, which cumulatively, they say, will have a crippling effect on power generation and other industries. “Even God,” says Joe Barton, a Republican congressman, “couldn’t meet some of the ozone standards.”

…The Republican leadership in the House has accused the administration of plotting to raise the price of energy through onerous regulation, in an effort to promote otherwise uncompetitive green technologies. It wants the EPA to give more weight to the impact on the economy and jobs when drawing up future rules.

The Obama administration has.  And is.  Trying to raise the price of ‘cheap’ energy to promote their green energy initiatives.  It’s on record they want gasoline to cost as much in the U.S. as it does in Europe (as in $8/gallon).  To make more costly and shorter-range electric cars easier to sell.  And they want to do the same with cheap fossil fuel-produced electricity.  To make more costly and less reliable wind and solar generated electricity easier to sell.

EPA officials appear baffled by this barrage of hostility… The agency, they say, already conducts cost-benefit analyses of all important regulations, in addition to submitting them for expert review and public comment. Every dollar spent on pollution controls mandated by the Clean Air Act, including the ozone restrictions that Mr Barton is complaining about, will bring $30 in benefits to public health, the EPA reckons.

Expert review and comment?  By who?  It certainly isn’t the businesses affected by their regulations.  Who know exactly the costs their regulations will add.  No, they can’t be the experts.  Not when they are protesting the onerous costs these regulations are adding.

And the $30 in benefits for every dollar spent on pollution controls is a specious argument.  No one can know this.  It’s made up math based on fallacious assumptions and unrealistic projections.  Much like the math they used some 2-3 decades ago when they made all those alarmist global warming predictions that never came true.

Saving the Trees but Killing the Planet

We were saving the trees going to a paperless world thanks to the Internet.  Little did we know that we were killing the planet by saving those trees (see Could the Net be killing the planet one web search at a time? by Alex Roslin, for Post Media News, posted 6/3/2011 on The Vancouver Sun).

Ironically, despite the web’s green promise, this explosion of data has turned the Internet into one of the planet’s fastest-growing sources of carbon emissions. The Internet now consumes two to three per cent of the world’s electricity…

The bulk of all this energy is gobbled up by a fast-growing network of huge “server farms” or data centres that form the backbone of the Internet. They are hush-hush facilities, some the size of five Wal-Marts, packed from floor to ceiling with tens of thousands of computers…

All those computers have a voracious appetite for energy, especially for cooling equipment to prevent overheating.

This means that every time you do an Internet search you’re releasing polluting carbon into the atmosphere.  Because the majority of our cheap and reliable electricity is produced with cheap and reliable fossil fuels.  And some of these server farms are fossil fuel beasts with voracious appetites.

Apple’s mega-facility is part of a cluster of gigantic new data centres coming on line in North Carolina that are powered largely by cheap and highly polluting coal power. Google has a 44,000-square-metre data centre in the state that eventually will consume an estimated 60 to 100 MW. Facebook has a 28,000-square-metre facility under construction there that will eat up 40 MW.

Greenpeace calls the three facilities “North Carolina’s dirty data triangle.” Coal, it says, is the most polluting of all fossil fuels and the world’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

“The technologies of the 21st century are still largely powered by the dirty coal power of the past,” the environmental group said in a report card on the IT sector in April, titled How Dirty is Your Power?

There is a reason why we use so much coal.  And it’s not because we hate the planet.

North Carolina offers industrial customers one of the lowest electricity rates in the U.S. — 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour, versus the U.S. average of 6.7 cents.

It just so happens that the state’s electricity is also some of the dirtiest in the country. Nearly two-thirds of the state’s electricity comes from coal.

And here is the tradeoff between global warming and jobs.  Coal is dirty but cheap.  Which keeps electricity costs down.  Which attracts business.  Like in North Carolina.  Other locations lost these new jobs because their environmental policies made energy more expensive in those locations.

The real solution, [Bill St. Arnaud, an engineer and green IT consultant in Ottawa] said, is for governments to impose measures like carbon taxes and emissions caps that make dirty energy less attractive financially.

“The planet is warming up, and it’s going to get very bad. We need a price on carbon. It’s the only way to get people to move off coal because coal is currently so cheap,” he said.

The environmentalist want to raise the cost of electricity.  So cheap coal-generated electricity isn’t so cheap.  So business have no less costly solution.  Thus guaranteeing their costs will rise.  Making them look elsewhere to cut costs.  As in not hiring people.  Or laying them off.  All the while passing these higher costs onto the consumer.  Increasing their utility costs.  As well as the goods they purchase.  Leaving them with less disposable income.  Thus reducing economic activity.  With them buying less business will sell less.  Which means they won’t expand.  Instead, they’ll probably cut their production.  And lay off people.

However you look at it, increasing the cost of energy ends badly for the consumer.  And that’s exactly what the EPA wants to do.  And the Obama administration.  So they can implement their green initiatives.  And, of course, adding a tax on carbon, the most abundant byproduct of energy production, provides a lot of revenue for an overextended federal government.  Which is, I’m sure, just a coincidence.  And by coincidence I mean it’s the driving force behind all green initiatives.  Increasing tax revenue.

The EU wants to Emission Tax the World’s Airlines

But this is not an American phenomenon.  It’s even bigger in the European Union.  And they’re looking to export their regulations to other nations (see Airlines, EU in escalating trade row over emissions by David Fogarty and Pete Harrison posted 6/5/2011 on Reuters).

Global airlines attacked the European Union on Sunday over its plan to force them into the bloc’s emissions trading scheme, as the EU vowed to stand firm against threats of retaliation…

The EU will require all airlines flying to Europe to be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) from January 1 next year. The system forces polluters to buy permits for each tone of carbon dioxide they emit above a certain cap.

You want to fly to the EU?  Well, that’s fine, but there’ll be an additional tax.  You see, we’re trying to save the planet.  And our treasury.  As these EU bailouts are getting expensive.  And don’t appear to be ending any time soon.

Airlines say the scheme will increase costs and comes at a time when fears are growing about a faltering global economy, which could slash industry profit expectations…

“The last thing that we want to see is a trade war,” said Giovanni Bisignani, director-general of the International Air Transport Association. The EU had to heed a “growing chorus of countries strongly opposing an illegal extraterritorial scheme.”

“We have to absolutely avoid this because the risk of retaliation for Europe that is in survival mode would be the kiss of death,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of IATA’s annual meeting in Singapore.

The younger people today may not know what a trade war is.  It’s when one country raises the price of doing business in your country to every other country trying to do business in your country.  This is to protect the higher-priced domestic industries.  By removing lower-priced consumer alternatives.  When countries retaliate by doing the same you get a trade war.  And it is the consumer who suffers.  Because everything they buy becomes more expensive.  Oh, and it was a trade war that caused the Great Depression.

Under the scheme, the aviation sector will receive 213 million carbon permits, called EU Allowances (EUAs) in 2012 and then 209 million from 2013 to 2020, representing the cap. As many as 82 percent of them will be given free to airlines, meaning most of the rest will have to be bought from the market.

With six months before the sector joins the ETS, opposition is growing.

A China Southern executive has said the China Air Transport Association is preparing to sue the EU over the issue, a Chinese media report said.

“The opposition is broad,” said Andrew Herdman, Director-General of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, which represents 15 airlines such as Cathay, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines…

China says Europe should adjust the ETS to reflect the differences between rich and poor countries, while Vijay Mallya, chairman of India’s Kingfisher Airlines, said he could not accept it.

The EU may know what’s best for the planet.  And their bank.  But the world doesn’t appear that it will sit back and transfer sovereignty and money to them without a protest.  Or a fight.  Perhaps even a trade war.  Which would be a bad thing as much of the world tries to pull itself out of the worst recession since the Great Depression.  And it would be a terrible shame for history to repeat itself on that score.  For one Great Depression was quite enough.

Carbon Taxes and Carbon Trading kills Jobs and crashes Economies

Green energy initiatives are just a cover for massive tax increases.  For desperate nations who can’t control their spending.  That’s why nations everywhere are fighting against carbon taxes and trading.  They see the cost to business.  And the jobs they will kill.  It’s not that they want to kill the planet.  They just don’t want to subsidize another nation’s financial problems.  Or see their own economies crash.  Which it will under a carbon taxing/trading scheme.

Environmental policies and economic activity are a trade off. You advance one by reducing the other.   Which makes advancing environmental policies during recessionary times difficult.  Because it’s one thing to save the planet when you have a job.  But another when you don’t.  At such a time, yes, you care about the planet.  But you care more about your family.  You think to yourself that the planet can take care of itself.  It survived ice ages.  Cataclysmic meteorite collisions.  Huge volcanic explosions.  Droughts.  Fires.  Hurricanes.  Tornadoes.  Earthquakes.  Plagues.  And if it can survive all that, you think it’ll be able to survive your having a job so you can support your family.

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LESSONS LEARNED # 50: “What do the great entrepreneurs have in common with politicians? Not a whole hell of a lot.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 27th, 2011

Cigarettes may be Bad for You, but they’re Good for Government

Government services cost money.  A lot of money.  And there are only a few ways government can get money.  They can tax their citizens.  Borrow money.  Or print money (if they’re the federal government).  When the government provides only the bare essentials for its populace, they can usually pay for those services with the taxes they collect.  This is the best way to pay for things.  It has the least adverse affect on our money.  And our credit rating.  But you have to be careful not to dampen economic activity.  Because taxes are a function of that activity.  And that activity can be a function of taxes.  There is a general inverse relationship between the two.  High taxes often gets you low economic activity.  Low taxes tend to give you high activity.  Other things being equal, of course.

But government spending tends to grow.  For various reasons.  And sometimes when it does, the spending is greater than the amount collected in taxes.  Especially during recessionary times.  So, to cover the deficit between revenue and spending they borrow money.  Or print it.  Lots of governments do this.  You can see record debt levels and record deficit spending throughout the world.  Greece was in the news recently.  Argentina suffered some bad times a few decades ago.  And now the United States is reeling a bit from their crushing deficits and debt.  And there are more.  Few nations are immune from this problem.

As this progresses, governments begin looking for additional tax revenue.  Such as sin taxes.  Cigarettes may be bad for your health.  But they’re still legal.  Why?  Taxes.  Few things do we tax so heavily.  And they’re one of the few things that we can heavily tax.  Because they’re addictive.  Cigarettes are a windfall for the government coffers.  But it doesn’t stop with taxes.  The government even sued Big  Tobacco.  To help pay for the medical costs the government incurs treating people (via Medicare and Medicaid) with smoking related diseases.

Which came First?  The Politician or the Entrepreneur?

Cigarettes may be bad for you.  But this country owes a lot to tobacco.  Back before it was bad for us (well, at least before we knew it was bad for us.  Then again, it wasn’t really all that bad for us back then.  For few were living long enough for it to become a health problem.  But I digress) it was a pretty big cash crop.  Even used for money because it was so valuable.  So an industry grew.  And that industry became a very lucrative one.  With deep pockets.  Producing an addictive product.  A veritable gold mine for a high-spending government.

Now, the government didn’t do a thing to make a single cigarette.  But it profited handsomely off of cigarettes.  It’s sort of like that chicken and egg riddle.  Which came first?  Well, speaking about business and government, it’s not much of a riddle.  Business came first.  For without business, there would be no government.  Because someone has to create wealth first before they could tax it away.  Or sue it away.

You see, that’s the difference between entrepreneurs and politicians.  Government needs entrepreneurs.  But entrepreneurs don’t need government.  Because entrepreneurs create things.  While government takes from people that create things.

Dirty, Sexy Energy is Destroying the Planet

Entrepreneurs have invented some pretty impressive things.  James Watt gave us a pretty efficient steam engine.  Henry Ford gave us a pretty affordable car.  Watt helped to launch the Industrial Revolution.  Ford just took it to new heights.  With his mass production.

The steam engine was the big first motor of the world.  It pulled us forward.  In steam locomotives.  And coal-fired power plants.  It was a giant leap forward for mankind.  Then came the internal combustion engine.  More compact.  And more powerful.  The first diesel-electric locomotive outclassed the state of the art steam locomotive in every way.  This little power plant was smaller.  More powerful.  And cleaner.  (Steam locomotives belched huge plumes of smoke and ash wherever they went.)

It may have been cleaner.  But it was still dirty.  For both the steam engine and the internal combustion engine produced carbon dioxide.  And the environmentalists were saying that this carbon dioxide was warming the world.  They called it global warming.  And it was bad.  Mostly theory.  But the theory pointed to nothing less than apocalypse.  Someone had to do something.  To save the planet.  And, guess what?  Someone was ready.  And willing.

Just give me something to Tax, Entrepreneur

A high-spending government just embraced these environmentalists with wet, slobbering kisses.  Because they knew what to do.  Not about cleaner energy sources.  But about taxing the dirty ones.  And they needed more taxes.  For their high spending.  So the environmentalists and government were rather simpatico.  To say the least.

Their idea?  Carbon taxes.  And carbon trading (i.e., Cap and Trade).  Let’s face it, modern civilization is addicted to energy.  We can’t do without it.  So we’ll never stop using it.  Sort of like cigarettes.  So they would tax carbon.  Or make polluters buy permits to pollute.  Either way they make big money.  All in the name of saving the planet.

Sure, it all sounds nice.  In a touchy feely way.  But taxing energy will kill economic activity.  With the cost of doing business going up, there will be less business.  The carbon taxes/polluting permits may not even offset the loss of tax revenue resulting from this decline in economic activity.  But when times are desperate, they often will try desperate measures.  And when you have deficits and debt at record levels, these are desperate times.  So they’ll try to push carbon taxes.  And pollution permits.  Not to save the planet.  But for the revenue.  And they will thank God for the entrepreneur who was able to make something that people wanted.  That they couldn’t do without.  Because without the entrepreneur, there would be nothing to tax.

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