Ontario’s premier-designate Doug Ford’s election victory has interrupted California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s plans to fight man-made global warming.
Ford, brother of late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, said his first priority upon taking office would be to “cancel the Liberal cap-and-trade carbon tax.”
That means pulling out of the cap-and-trade market with California and Quebec, where companies are forced to buy credits to emit carbon dioxide. Ontario’s planned withdrawal is not a death-blow to the carbon market, but it underscores the risks of climate policies.
“The whole episode underscores the dangers of a political ‘solution’ to the ostensible problem of climate change: these government systems can always be overturned at the next election,” economist Bob Murphy, a senior economist at the Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
California and Quebec moved quickly after the election to keep Ontario companies from dumping $2.8 billion worth of CO2 allowances, which would depress prices. California’s cap-and-trade system began operating in 2013 and was eventually linked to systems in Quebec and Ontario. Brown signed legislation in 2017 to extend California’s cap-and-trade system through 2030.
Brown opposed Ford’s pledge to scrap Ontario’s cap-and-trade system. The governor said U.S. President Donald Trump “is already pilot-testing this kind of manoeuvre and so far it’s more litigation than action.”
“Sometimes they’ll win a few votes, but there’s also a lot of buyer’s remorse here,” Brown said in April before Ford’s election win. “Certainly you can see that in the United States now. People didn’t know what they were getting. So people should really look and see.”
Canadians voted in Ford on promises of tax cuts and less government, including ending a cap-and-trade that’s increased the cost of gas around 12 cents a gallon. (RELATED: Sierra Club: ‘Climate Deniers’ Are Racists)
“Upon the swearing-in of my new cabinet, at the top of our agenda, the very first item will be to pass an order to cancel the Liberal cap-and-trade carbon tax,” Ford told reporters on Friday.
Ford also promised to challenge any carbon tax that would be imposed on Ontario by Canada’s central government. The Trudeau administration’s policy is to impose a carbon tax on provinces that don’t have their own emissions taxes or markets.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has taken Trudeau’s government to court over the carbon tax imposition. Ford will join Moe’s legal battle against carbon taxes.
Ford’s victory has been compared to Trump’s unexpected 2016 election win. Murphy said it also mirrors past political victories on promises to undo global warming policies.
“As we saw in Australia, people realize that limits on carbon dioxide emissions cause rising electricity prices, and the public naturally responds to a reformer who promises to rollback government interference,” Murphy said.
Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s conservative coalition came to power in 2013 on promises to roll back left-wing policies, including the country’s carbon tax.
The carbon tax cost Australia’s economy $8.5 billion during the year it was in effect, as businesses were forced to pay for every ton of carbon dioxide emitted. Aussie lawmakers voted to repeal the carbon tax in 2014.
“Limiting emissions at the state or provincial level only serves to punish the residents and businesses in that region; emissions can simply migrate to other jurisdictions,” Murphy said.
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