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In defence of DeSmogBlog

Many progressive types have been attacking DeSmogBlog for its stance in the BC election. The folks over at DeSmogBlog have come out strongly against the proposed BC NDP GHG reduction plan (as have I and many others). But is this really a shock to anyone?

But if carbon taxes are popular among economists, they are widely regarded as toxic among voters – as any new tax is likely to be. That’s why the B.C. election is so important. For people outside this jurisdiction, it is being seen not so much as a minor election in a distant place, but as a referendum on carbon taxes. The assumption here is that if the tax fails here, it won’t be worth trying anywhere in North America…

There are, of course, other issues in this election, but for the DeSmogBlog there is only one: the carbon tax. Premier Gordon Campbell took a significant political risk in implementing this, the most progressive climate change legislation in any jurisdiction in North America. And he stuck to his guns, even when the politically expedient thing would have been to organize a timely retreat.

For that leadership, he deserves the support that he has been receiving recently from Canadian environmental groups. Climate-conscious voters who are uncomfortable with the remainder of his centre-right platform also have the option of voting for the Green Party, which has also taken an intelligent and responsible position in support of the carbon tax. (In fact, the Greens have gone the extra step of pointing out that, even on its rising trajectory, the tax is not yet high enough to be truly effective.)

I was invited to Washington, D.C. early this year by the U.S. Carbon Tax Centre. They had arranged a Capitol Hill briefing on this issue and they were interested in the Canadian experience. They were concerned, firstly, that a federal party (also called Liberal, but unrelated) had recently proposed a carbon tax and lost the subsequent election and, secondly, that the BC government – the only one to have passed such a tax – now seemed to be in danger.

So, I am convinced: politicians and policymakers from across North America are watching this election – which means that we at the DeSmogBlog will continue to give it attention, and to criticize those who, for whatever reasons, are campaigning against this worthy – necessary – policy.

For the record, this puts us in an interesting and unfamiliar position. As long-time and trenchant critics of the climate change (non-)policies of the Bush Republicans in the U.S. and the Harper Conservatives in Canada, we at the DeSmogBlog frequently have been castigated as somehow “left-wing” – as if caring about the environment we leave to our children is the stuff of communist conspiracy. Since the start of the election, however, the NDP’s defenders have started calling us “right-wing” – in one reference, someone even called us “neo-cons.”

This smacks of old-fashioned, partisan politics where you set up and attack labels because you don’t want to discuss the issue…

This dispute is all about climate change. Specifically, it’s about the carbon tax. If the New Democrats want the DeSmogBlog’s support, they can change policies. As long as they attack the carbon tax and continue in what seems to be a transparent attempt to take advantage of public confusion on the issue, they can call us whatever names they please, but they can count on our continued opposition.

The BC Liberal carbon tax, while still to small to be effective, put a price on the large majority of BC emissions. That is something that no other GHG reduction policy anywhere in North America has accomplished. By comparison the plan proposed by the BC NDP captures less than a third of BC’s emissions.

Given this, and the fact that the BC election is being viewed as a carbon tax litmus test, across North America, is it any wonder that DeSmogBlog has come out in favour of the BC Liberal’s plan and against the plan proposed by the BC NDP?

In taking this stance, the only thing DeSmogBlog is doing is sticking to their principles. And for that I applaud them.

13 Responses to In defence of DeSmogBlog

  1. Desmog is a Liberal “greenwash” shell organization. When the folks running it – say they are non-partisan – but are big donors and previous insiders in the liberal party – votefortheenvironment comes to mind here (same duds), the jig is up.
    Read the Tyree – Hook – always follow the money I say, and surprise – big donations.
    Enough said.
    Together, we win. Sadly the environment loses.

    Have a good day.

  2. To follow DSB’s support of the Liberals just because they put a token tax in place will do more damage than good to the environment. DSB has not considered either party’s environmental platform as a whole and therefore shows its misplaced bias for Campbell and the dirty Liberals.

    They do briefly offer praise to the Green Party, but only as an afterthought. If they were truly “sticking to their principles” they would either fully endorse the Green Party or admit the Liberals have problems.

  3. @ janfromthebruce

    First of all, the fact that they put their money where their mouth is, and reward political parties that have implemented proper carbon pricing (something they have always said was the most important thing in reducing GHG emissions), or have gotten government contracts doesn’t mean that they are blind partisans as many are implying.

    Secondly even if you can make a good case (and I am definitely not convinced) that they are acting in a partisan manner, it doesn’t make much difference. Remember it isn’t just DSB that have come out against the BC NDP on this issue. Mark Jaccard of SFU, Andrew Weaver of UVIC, The David Suzuki Foundation (yes I am aware of their link to DSB, but DSF is certainly not afraid of criticizing the Liberals), the Pembina Institute and ForestEthics, have all come out against the NDP on this issue.

    Frankly DSB’s position has been remarkably consistent here, had they endorsed the NDP policy, or even remained silent they would have seriously compromised their principles.

    I will, however, grant you that DSB should have openly disclosed any ties they have to any parties in this election.

    @ Ian

    DSB has not considered either party’s environmental platform as a whole

    No they haven’t, but then DSB isn’t really interested in the wider environmental issues. They are interested in climate change and that is what they have focussed on. And as they have made abundantly clear by far the most important aspect of any GHG reduction policy is carbon pricing. That is why they support the Liberals, and not the NDP.

    If they were truly “sticking to their principles” they would either fully endorse the Green Party or admit the Liberals have problems.

    Like it or not (I certainly don’t) the Green Party is a fringe party; it is perfectly understandable that DSB focuses on the mainstream parties.

    As for the Liberal Party having problems, they do, that is true. I even highlighted some of them in first post on this issue, but remember DSB isn’t endorsing the Liberals, just the carbon tax. You imply that DSB’s support is far greater than it actually is.

    As Richard Littlemore made clear: “We’re not supporting the Liberals, and we’re sure not endorsing their whole platform: we’re supporting the carbon tax – now, same as always.

  4. Well done, Dan. Jack and Carole are plainly on the wrong side of this one. Jan, ever the loyalist, does her best to rally to their defence but falls short. What the NDP side needs to do is dissect their opposition to carbon taxes and come up with some plausible justification rather than merely piss into the wind with unconvincing denunciations of their critics.

    Jan, you have to do better than this.

  5. Thanks.

    What the NDP side needs to do is dissect their opposition to carbon taxes and come up with some plausible justification rather than merely piss into the wind with unconvincing denunciations of their critics.

    That is pretty much my stand point.

    If am am reading the NDP’s position correctly their main complaint, is that the BC Liberal carbon tax unfairly burdens low income individuals and families. If that is really their beef, why not simply state that if they are elected they will ensure that the revenue collected by the carbon tax will be predominantly refunded to those with low income?

    That would have no real effect on the environmental benefits of the tax, but should alleviate the NDP’s complaints (though economic arguments could be made against such a move but I do not want to get into those here).

    Instead they have acted completely irresponsibly.

  6. I see they are on the wrong side of Obama too, who supports cap and trade, and with hard caps on emissions. None-of-this rising intensity targets crap.

    And desmog, along with votefortheenvironment are one and the same, vote liberal and often.

    But sure vote liberal, as they sell off public for private – that’s what they do best.

  7. @ janfromthebruce

    You shouldn’t get upset with those pointing out the flaws in the NDP plan, but rather you should get upset with the NDP for proposing such a flawed plan.

    The details of the Obama cap and trade plan aren’t known yet, so I cannot yet comment on it’s effectiveness.

    But my criticisms of the NDP plan, have nothing to do with the fact that they propose a cap and trade system (despite me preferring a carbon tax), and everything to do with the fact that they exempt over 2/3 of BC’s emissions from carbon pricing, and rely on non-compulsory policies to reduce the rest.

    As for your comment on the “rising intensity targets crap”, I have no idea what you are talking about. Don’t confuse the fact that a carbon tax approach doesn’t have hard caps with intensity based targets. the two are completely different things. BC’s emission’s targets (not to be confused with caps) are absolute, not intensity based.

    One more thing. I want to make it clear that I am not suggesting anyone vote for the Liberals. There are many factors to take into consideration when deciding who to vote for. All I am suggesting is that in regards to carbon pricing (IMO the most important aspect of any GHG reduction policy) the Liberals have a much better plan than the NDP.

    Is that enough reason to vote for them? That is up to you.

  8. Hard caps and carbon taxes aren’t mutually exclusive options. They can be used separately or in conjunction depending on the nature of the emitter and the nature of the emissions (social utility, etc.). Individuals ought to be treated differently than large corporations.

    I don’t know that the Liberals will reap the gains from dissatisfaction with James and the NDP. I think the Green Party will reap the majority of any votes that leave the NDP and good for them.

  9. I think the Green Party will reap the majority of any votes that leave the NDP and good for them.

    That makes a lot of sense. The Liberals are simply to far to the right on many issues for most NDP voters to even consider.

  10. There are a great many things the Libs need to be held to account for, starting with the privatization of BC Ferries. Read Rafe Mair’s stories on the Campbell government’s policies toward our rivers. Then there’s the BC Rail business, the damned Olympics coupled with the cutting of services such as hospital bed closures, the list goes on and on. The Green Party is looking better every day.

  11. Of course then there is that. Like most parties that have been in power for awhile the BC Liberals have had more than a few scandals. But that doesn’t mean I will stop praising their Carbon tax. Good policy is good policy, regardless of where it comes from.

    The green party does look like a great alternative (as they did last election), and unless something unexpected happens they can count on my vote

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