The Dilemma of Carbon Tax
Everybody’s business is nobody’s business. It is definitely true owing to the current global scenario as far as Environment Protection is concerned. The recent three setbacks in France, Canada and the state of Washington to the Carbon Tax show it all. Some people are often seen following two contrary directions; they talk about one thing, but follow another.
When it comes to the protection of the environment and protecting the globe from climate change, people here have a very positive opinion, but initiating the first step towards that goal becomes difficult.
According to a recent poll conducted by two large media houses, two-thirds of the American citizens believe that action is needed to tackle climate change, and 45 percent believe that it’s of much seriousness and immediate steps should be taken. Also, 52 percent of Americans believe that failing to address climate change will cost more financially.
Bill at the Washington State-
Last month the I-1631 bill was rejected on 56 to 44 percent by the voters in Washington state. It was a ballot initiative to impose a carbon tax on emission. It would have been the first tax of its kind all over the nation. As per the bill, a tax of $15 would have been levied on per metric ton of carbon emission. And by collecting this tax, the state could have gathered $1 billion by 2023, which could have been used later for mitigation strategies like renewable energy, etc.
Washington State has been the epicenter of environmental activism. It has a liberal coalition, so that makes a perfect scenario for pushing the bill to the voters. This initiative was also funded well, and voters were reached stating them all the sides of the bill. Yet, the I-1631 could not see daylight.
Another leading country among the so-called first world nations, France has seen unrest. The Yellow Vest movement has been going on against the decision of hike in transportation fuel of 25 cents per gallon. The money recovered from the hike could have been used for two purposes: To reduce the usage of Fossil Fuels, and to fund research on renewable energy. But, owing to the nationwide movement of non-acceptance the Macron government had to suspend the bill.
The situation at Canada is also similar if not the same. The Federal Government in Canada has been pushing the states to formulate their own Carbon Tax structure. But, none of the states has done this yet. The Trudeau Government has been facing resistance from the day it initiated the carbon tax discussions.
The intention of the propped bill was the same for the three places but owing to the style of the Government; they had a different legislative way. Washington State had a referendum, Canada had delegation to the local government, and France had a top-down approach. But, the bills have faced similar kind of resistance from all the three places.
Why the Rejection matters?
The non-acceptance of the bills for environment protection in these places matters more than anything. There are certain reasons for that,
- Washington State, France, and Canada are some of the developed first world nations and state. The citizens here are well educated about the seriousness of Global warming. Even they accept that the solution is needed on an urgent basis as per the WSJ poll. In short, these are the places which can afford the tax. If these places back out, would anyone expect the developing nations to even think about the carbon tax?
- The amount of Tax is the bone of contention as per some in the whole scenario. But, the motive of the Tax is to gather such huge fund so that it can be used for real mitigation processes. There is no proof that the behavior would have changed, had the Government introduced the bill with a lesser amount.
- It tells us the difference between propagation and practice. We at the Washington State are proud of the principles we follow. In fact, most of the nations are. But, what if we have Principles and they are not practiced. The whole carbon tax episode reminds us of that thing. We are aware of the situation, yet we are not ready to act.
- The failure of the bill reminds of the political inability as well. In this democratic process, the bill can never see daylight. It is crystal clear that the one form of Government which could have imposed the tax is, the autocratic one. The history has shown us how the autocratic governments fell. That’s why we have chosen democracy so that we will rule ourselves for the greater good. But, is the principle followed now?
It should be reported here that we have certain global organizations and conventions for environment protection, like UNEP, COP, and Kyoto Protocol, etc. But these conventions go with the principle that first, the well-off nations have to restrain than the turn would come for the developing nations. This implies that the rich nations would have to pay for the mitigation in lower income nations. But looking at the people’s wills here in this part of the globe, it seems far distant from the expectation. We are not ready to fund for ourselves, would we even care for funding others?
The question is not about funding the nations or not. The question lies in the intention. If we do not act now, will not it be too late to act? The world has been experiencing many radical changes on its environmental front. We, in the United States, also have faced the change. To make our lives sustainable, the rejection of the I-1631 is not going to help in any way.