Friday, October 20, 2006

What Canadians Will Pay to Cut Emissions

Strategic Counsel has done another poll for CTV News and The Globe and Mail asking Canadians what kinds of measures would be generally acceptable in order to combat Global Warming. Canadians would support, or somewhat support:

- Heavy fines for energy-using industries that fail to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions: 84 per cent

- An energy tax based on the total amount of energy used consumers and industries: 55 per cent

- Pay tolls on major roads and highways: 37 per cent

- Significantly increasing the price of gasoline: 20 per cent

- Raising income taxes: 18 per cent

Alan Gregg, the pollster behind the poll, suggests that the theme behind these findings is "He who uses most, pays the most." Furthermore:

The relatively small percentage of Canadians who would go for an increase in gas prices or a rise in income tax indicates that a consumption levy is far more palatable, said Gregg, adding that few people appear willing to defend big industry on the issue.

Well, to me the results suggest a slightly different theme. Specifically, "Don't tax me, don't tax thee, tax the man behind the tree." Because if you put the income tax increase aside, then everything on the list is a consumption levy.

And so the consumption levies that Canadians are less supportive of are the ones that will apply to them most directly: an increase in Gas Taxes, for example. Unfortunately, this lends some credence to the Conservative complaint that Canadians are for a clean environment until they are the ones asked to pay for it. Especially since, I would argue, polls done in the abstract like this (where no relevant legislation is imminent) will over-state support for particular initiatives.

No comments: