Thread: Economic "externalities", climate change, behaviour change, what would you pay? Board: Purgatory / Ship of Fools.


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Posted by no prophet's flag is set so... (# 15560) on :
 
I don't have a link, because this is generated from multiple sources, much of it discussion with young people who are quite motivated about making a difference.

In Canada, we have a number of pipelines either approved or pending approval, or under some additional review. They have usually factored into the carbon/environmental impact the amount released when pipes are made, transport of materiél and use of equipment. With one of these, it is reported that the carbon impact of the oil used, including that involved in extraction will be factored in. It was formerly an "externality". I see this as a good thing. It will mean that the pipeline is more expensive, perhaps to the point that it is uneconomic.

The discussion of car driving came forth. When we drive we pay for fuel and maintenance. We don't pay directly for road construction and maintenance, and the carbon pollution released when the work is done: everything from fuel for machinery, to cost of transporting the various layers of earth, and the out-gassing of the macadam pavement. There is a general myth that there is "road tax" built into the cost of fuel. It isn't. I am unaware of any jurisdiction where this is true beyond a token amount: most road construction comes from general taxation. We also don't pay for the energy impact of car manufacturing, including all of the plastics, steel manufacturing, other components.

These two examples suggest that we are not paying for carbon pollution directly, we don't feel and realize the impact, and that it is actually a subsidy borne by all. Which isn't fair and is bad for the climate and environment.

The pipeline carbon footprint externalities made into an integral cost is an easier sell I think because we can personally disconnect from the costs. With the car driving, I wonder if we'd be willing to pay directly.

One of the ideas is that there would be a direct fee paid when a car is purchased which prices the pollution created in manufacturing. Apparently this can be equivalent to 3-5 years of fuel burning pollution depending on the car. I expect this would be merely financed as part of a car loan and wouldn't have an impact of reducing carbon pollution very much because it is indirect; people would drive about the same. This fee would have to be higher for electric vehicles apparently because the carbon burnt making them is more.

The second idea is direct pricing of ongoing car pollution so as to reduce pollution. This is one that I wonder about the most. This could be by raising the cost of fuel per litre or gallon. But I don't know that this would change behaviour. What I wonder about is whether a per distance travelled fee, i.e. a per mile or per km charge, perhaps rated for the type of vehicle. To develop my thinking, I looked at what the provincial gov't pays for personal use of automobiles. This is in the range of 40¢ per km, about 60¢ per mile. Would having to pay a fee like this change your driving behaviour such that amount of carbon released was reduced? I think it would most of us. Isn't it past time for direct charges on carbon pollution? How much would you need to pay per distance travelled to change your use of a car?
 
Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
The second idea is direct pricing of ongoing car pollution so as to reduce pollution. This is one that I wonder about the most. This could be by raising the cost of fuel per litre or gallon. But I don't know that this would change behaviour. What I wonder about is whether a per distance travelled fee, i.e. a per mile or per km charge, perhaps rated for the type of vehicle. To develop my thinking, I looked at what the provincial gov't pays for personal use of automobiles. This is in the range of 40¢ per km, about 60¢ per mile. Would having to pay a fee like this change your driving behaviour such that amount of carbon released was reduced? I think it would most of us.

While human psychology can be a funny thing, I'm not sure the reasoning here is sound in making a distinction between these two cases. On the one hand, taxing fuel directly pretty much automatically scales the tax to the efficiency of the vehicle it's used in. A gallon of gasoline produces the same amount of carbon pollution regardless of whether it propels the vehicle burning it fifteen miles or fifty. Given that most fuels are already taxed to some degree, simply raising existing fuel taxes to factor in the cost of carbon externalities seems a lot more practical and likely more popular (or at least less unpopular because taxes are never popular) than an exciting new per mile/kilometer tax that requires the government to track the movements of everyone traveling the roads.
 
Posted by Leorning Cniht (# 17564) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
What I wonder about is whether a per distance travelled fee, i.e. a per mile or per km charge, perhaps rated for the type of vehicle. [..]Isn't it past time for direct charges on carbon pollution? How much would you need to pay per distance travelled to change your use of a car?

But you don't care about how far my car travels. As Crœsos points out, you care about the amount of CO2 it emits, which is directly measurable by the amount of gasoline it consumes.

A per-mile fee rated for the "type" of vehicle does this worse. (And also doesn't account for the fact that you can increase your gas usage by tens of percent by driving like a dick. Your scheme doesn't discourage dickish driving at all.)

CO2 emission depends on gas consumption. So tax gas - job done.

Congestion, on the other hand, depends on road occupancy, which is not the same thing. You probably don't have congestion problems in Saskatchewan, but if you want to reduce congestion in your city, you don't care so much whether it's an electric car, a hybrid, or one of BMW's lying polluting diesels - you care that it's a car-sized box occupying road-space in rush hour. So to combat congestion, you tax all the cars the same.

Just remember to tax the buses too, at a greater rate.
 
Posted by Russ (# 120) on :
 
There may be a "pond difference" here.

IIRC, something like two-thirds of the amount that people here pay for motor fuel is tax. In other words, there's a 200% tax on top of the before-tax price of petrol and diesel.

Here in Ireland there's a car tax that has to be paid every year (the tax disc displayed on the windscreen). That varies by type of car, and how old the car is (because they changed the system at a certain point in time so cars after a cartain date pay different rates). But it can easily be over €600. I'm told that the average industrial wage in Ireland is around €35,000. So the car tax is roughly of the order of a week's pre-tax wages.

New cars sold in Ireland attract a Vehicle Registration Tax. If you as a private motorist import a car from the UK, you are liable for this, at a rate of 27% of what the Revenue deem the value of the car to be.

You may well have done the sums correctly for where you live, but some of us pay far too much tax already thank you.
 
Posted by no prophet's flag is set so... (# 15560) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
Just remember to tax the buses too, at a greater rate.

No, you don't do that. You want people to get into the busses and out of the cars. 1 bus and 60 people versus 1 car and 1 person. So to change behaviour and reduce per person emissions, it costs much less to travel by bus, and the bus also gets priority over the cars.
 
Posted by sharkshooter (# 1589) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
... There is a general myth that there is "road tax" built into the cost of fuel. It isn't. I am unaware of any jurisdiction where this is true beyond a token amount: most road construction comes from general taxation. ...

Virtually all tax revenues in Canada go into general revenues.
 
Posted by Ian Climacus (# 944) on :
 
no prophet wrote, in part:
quote:
Would having to pay a fee like this change your driving behaviour such that amount of carbon released was reduced? I think it would most of us. Isn't it past time for direct charges on carbon pollution? How much would you need to pay per distance travelled to change your use of a car?

Probably not a lot. I'd still want to drive to work (the bus service here is crap) and on the weekends to the mountains so I can hike or ski. I might choose closer mountains though.

That said I am not a big driver, except for the semi annual 700km each way trip back to the parents'. I made sure I bought a fuel efficient car and I do a lot of walking (lucky enough to live close to town).

I think the one thing missing is investment in public transport. Perhaps the revenue raised could go there. I'd happily pay for that. And then use it once it was in place.
 
Posted by Boogie (# 13538) on :
 
What about air travel?
 


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