Economist Brenda Frank contributes to the ongoing battle of ideas about carbon pricing in Canada with his January 9 blog : “Carbon pricing works even when emissions are rising”. Frank begins: “An old, debunked argument against carbon taxes has flared up recently: If total emissions aren’t falling, the tax must not be working. Let’s quash that myth.” Continuing the arguments he published in a 2017 blog, “The curious case of counterfactuals”, his central question is, “if emissions are still rising, how fast would they have been rising without a carbon price?” He cites recent studies, such as “The Impact of British Columbia’s Carbon Tax on Residential Natural Gas Consumption” (in Energy Economics, Dec. 2018), as well as the extensive carbon pricing reports produced by the Ecofiscal Commission, most recently Clearing the Air: How carbon pricing helps Canada fight climate change (April 2018). The conclusion: carbon pricing is more “complicated than something you can fit in a tweet”, and complex analysis demonstrates that it does work.
Marc Hafstead , U.S. economist and Director of the Carbon Pricing Initiative pursues a similar theme in “Buyer Beware: An Analysis of the Latest Flawed Carbon Tax Report” ( November 28). Hafstead contends that “some papers can introduce confusion and misinformation”, and demonstrates how this is done in The Carbon Tax: Analysis of Six Potential Scenarios , a study commissioned by the Institute for Energy Research and conducted by Capital Alpha Partners. Hafstead critiques the modelling assumptions and concludes they are flawed ; he also charges that the paper fails to explain its differences from the prevailing academic literature.
Even without Hafstead’s economic skills, one might be wary of the U.S. paper after a check of the DeSmog’s Global Warming Disinformation Database , which provides mind-blowing detail about the financial and personnel connections between the Institute for Energy Research and Koch Industries . DeSmog maintains records on organizations and individuals engaged in “climate change disinformation” in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.