I want Canada to ban tax deductions on carbon emitting products and services

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I want Canada to ban tax deductions on carbon emitting products and services



To Rt. Hon. Mr. Harper and other Canadians:

If Canada really wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions then why can business deduct expenses for gas, diesel, electricity, and other terrible pollutants? Wouldn't it make more sense to eliminate these deductions?

I'm sure there would be a way to make this new tax policy revenue neutral?

You could do this by:
1) Reducing the overall tax rate for business by a rate you could review on a regular basis.
2) Give more generous amounts of Capital Cost Allowances (otherwise known as depreciation) to buy or build or invent better vehicles, buildings, equipment or processes.

I know, I know...
Business would HOWL at first but you could ease into eliminating this deduction. Maybe phase a complete tax deduction ban in 10 years (I say 5 at most but anyhoo).

This would not be the first example of expenses being excluded from tax deductibility. Meals are only 50% claimable. My guess is this was done in the interest of fairness. It is done to discourage business from taking advantage and being extravagant in their spending. In my view the same could and should be done with carbon-emitting products.

I say this because as a non-business owner it drives me up the wall to see people driving gas-guzzling vehicles for their businesses and being allowed to write off a huge portion of this on my dime. I don't want to subsidize their wasteful squandering of my air.

I know people who have worked in the oilfields. Their companies allow them to fill up their trucks/cars for free. And I know that the company gets to write off these fuel expenses. So... what do these employees do?? They buy the biggest damned trucks/cars they can find. Go to any oil-town and you see these things idling all night long. And I'm subsidizing this though I don't want to.

If we changed our tax laws as I suggest I predict capital expenditures - particularly in solar, wind, thermal and other environmentally safe services - would go up, up up while demand for carbon emitting products and services would ease.

Why? Because the playing field would be more level for alternative energy. Alternative energy costs a heckuva lot to set up (capital costs) while energy from carbon emitting products does not cost as much to set up but does cost a lot to operate year by year (you have to buy the gas/oil/electricity from coal).

I don't want to subsidize this waste any more. Do you? Let's ban tax deductions on carbon emitting products and services. Change the rules...and business will follow the money.

well that's all whaddaya think?

Le T Le T's picture

First, welcome aboard the good ship Babble.

Second, where did you hear that the government is interested in decreasing GHGs?


Businesses do not pay tax. They just add it to their costs and pass it on to us.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

[img]rolleyes.gif" border="0[/img]


Hee. I love your handle, AllThingsBicycleIsGood. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img] Welcome!


In order for a plan like this to work, you'd have to draw some lines. For instance, public transit emits carbon. But we get a tax break for taking it because it emits less carbon than cars. And hybrid cars emit less carbon than regular cars. And regular cars emit less carbon than SUVs.

You see where I'm going with this...

I think it can be done, but it wouldn't be as simple a formula as merely, "ban tax deductions on carbon emitting products and services". Because every product and service, somewhere along the line, emits carbon - even bicycles, if you think about the carbon emissions that go into making them!

Some sort of determination would have to be made, about which products help reduce emissions by replacing higher-emission products, and where to draw the line would be the political argument between real environmental justice activists and the pretend conservative green types.


The line can be drawn between breaking the economy and not breaking the economy.

The real struggle will not be over carbon emissions but who will bear the cost burden of their reduction. The soaring cost of living will raise the poverty line at the same time that a declining economy reduces government revenues.

Be careful of what you wish for because the new age economy will fulfill activists' dreams without providing any resources to address the results.

No more SUVs,cheap crap from China,grapes from Chile or affordable heating energy.This is the activists' dream come true. The 100 mile food challenge, higher urban density, mass transit etc will come to the fore.

What solutions do activists have to address the new reality?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

ATBIG, I think you are making some assumptions that may not be accurate.

First of all, very few businesses are out to waste energy. I'd love to put my crew in a hybrid or Smart Car, but heckgoshdarn, a van works better when you've got 3 or 4 people, a camera package and lighting equipment. I also challenge someone to show me how to light an interview on portable wind or solar power. Please, go right ahead. Because, frankly, the technology isn't there yet.

No company gives its employees carte blanch on filling up their vehicles - certainly not many that stay in business for any length of time. If they use their own vehicles, they are being paid on a mileage basis that takes kilometres traveled and adds on some for wear and tear on the vehicle. Alternatively, if the employee is driving a company car, there is often a specific allowance provided on average km driven within a reasonable figure for the purposes of business. Sometimes gas is paid directly on a project basis, but you can bet your booty that somebody's keeping track.

This isn't counted as a tax deduction, btw. These are counted as business costs and are paid out of pocket by the business, the same as paper and pencils and other related costs are. You are not subsidizing any of it, to my knowledge.

I really don't know where you figure you're subsidizing our electricity, either...

It can also be that building a new building creates more footprint in terms of having to build outside the area one would do business out of in an older building and have to commute, or be a factor in creating more sprawl. It could be that retrofitting a building might make more sense -- if, that is, you own the building. Many businesses rent office space. How much carbon does it create to build, anyway? Will city ordinances allow newer green building techniques and materials? Often they don't. I know of at least one business in my city that erected a small wind turbine to generate some of their power and the city demanded they take it down.

I appreciate your green sentiments, but it strikes me that you haven't entirely thought out the implications of your proposal or given much time to how business expenditures and taxes actually work.

[ 12 June 2008: Message edited by: Timebandit ]

It's Me D


I also challenge someone to show me how to light an interview on portable wind or solar power.

what [img]confused.gif" border="0[/img] if you use a portable electric power source then what's wrong with charging said power source from a renewable energy source instead of... Did I miss something?

[ 13 June 2008: Message edited by: It's Me D ]

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Too cumbersome to travel with, for one -- power storage units, or batteries are large and heavy. Too many variables, ie: you can't recharge with solar power overnight, and cloudy days are a problem.

ETA: We don't tend to power light kits, for example, with portable power, for the most part. With cameras and sound equipment it's possible to use batteries, but you don't necessarily have the luxury of good available lighting.

[ 13 June 2008: Message edited by: Timebandit ]


In the main forum page, in the Last Post column, this thread appears as "I want Canada to ban tax...".

I was gratified that the actual content of the post was not as such [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]


Thanks for the welcome. Wow, those are fast replies.
To: MyLeftyInvestor Yeah, banning tax would be a good start I suppose.

Look, we are telling the doggie to not beg for food at the table while we are reaching under it to feed him some nice juicy steaks.

Michelle...Point taken about "where do you draw the line?" I dunno...let's see...gas and oil to me makes sense. so does coal produced electricity. Hydro produced electricity ain't so good either as far as I am concerned so to be fair to the coal-electricity people just say hydro electricity is not gonna get any deductibility either. If you can't prove it's solar, or wind or thermal or something danged benevolent then I say you cant deduct it.

Heck, if business needs to raise their prices because of this measure so be it. We consumers will need to pay for it or we will hopefully choose to get other products or services or do the 100-mile food thang.

I remember going to Germany in 1989 just before the mighty wall came down. I stayed in a suburb built after the war. Their economy was kicking butt. Know why? Because they don't spend nearly as much on carbon emitting stuff like cars, and gas and oil.

How'd they do it? It hit me when I was staying at my sister's appt in Munich. They build these 6block by 6 block square areas. May 8 by 8 i dunno. They put a shopping mall in the middle with 1 of each of the shops you need for everyday living. 1 bakery, bar, bank, drug store, clinic, grocery store etc. ... They surround this shopping area with appt buildings about 200-300 yards away. Might have 10 -15 appt buildings (each with 50 units) Solid buildings too mind you. In a corner of this block you'll see a school...in another a sorta forest. In another is a rec centre.

When I went shopping for bread it really hit me. My sis told me to get there before 3pm or no bread would be left (slim pickings). The thing was some guy delivered this bread by truck to the bakery...the bakery poofed it up and I biked or walked a max of 300 yards to get it. The persons who sold this bread went home by 5pm. They walked or biked to shop for wine for themselves and their lover and were home by 6. Likely walked or took the U-bahn to go uptown for entertainment(subway/LRT).

Compare this to Canada where I live in a typical grid system of blocks...very convenient for cars but not for human powered travel...I have to travel some 20 blocks to get to any of 3 different grocery stores to buy a loaf of bread Half the time it's baked in-store. Or likely it was baked at some factory some 5 miles away from there or even in Red Deer (120+ miles away) and shipped in that morning.
Why do they do that? Ship from 5 miles or 120 miles away? To save 10cents a loaf? That's crazy considering how much it costs us.

The social costs... People here work till 11pm or later in grocery stores. Over there ...done by 5. Time for family and friends and -gasp-your self. I dunno about you but I'm exhausted with all the travel I must do to shop or to get around town.

In fact, I'm too tired to write anymore. ZZZZZZZZZZzzz. Let's just says that using carbon products to do business is insane. It is time to encourage us to move back to a human scale. I can't write anymore. G'night. Claude

It's Me D

Germany is a small country with a decent public transit system... We have a hell of a lot of work to do before what you are suggesting can be applied outside of a couple cities. And you can bet our governments have no intention of doing it.


Germany is not a small country.

And the problem here isn't surface area, but car-created sprawl. If you go to old Quйbec you can walk everywhere.

It's Me D


If you go to old Quйbec you can walk everywhere.

You are welcome to visit Parrsboro, where I live, and try that [img]rolleyes.gif" border="0[/img]

My point was that for rural areas the government must make investments in public transit that they've completely neglected. In fact there is no public or even private transit here besides two taxis and its over 50km to even reach any place where you can meet any other form of transit (still private).

Unless you think we should all just move to "old Quйbec" that is...

And yes, Germany IS much smaller than Canada, and thus the investments required are much larger here.



Originally posted by It's Me D:
[b]My point was that for rural areas the government must make investments in public transit that they've completely neglected. In fact there is no public or even private transit here...[/b]

So the government should subsidize the ultimate "urban" sprawl?! [img]eek.gif" border="0[/img]

What is the density in your rural area? 1 inhabitant per 10 square kilometers?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Its not urban sprawl it is just more room for blueberries.

It's Me D


So the government should subsidize the ultimate "urban" sprawl?!

If this was a serious comment it is just disgusting.

We are all supposed to huddle together in cities where we can be closely supervised (for our benefit of course) while all the resources we consume are shipped in from... where exactly? Once you've moved all the rural producers into the cities what do you plan to eat? To wear? Etc. Arrogant city folk [img]rolleyes.gif" border="0[/img] . How about we do a little test, to see what is really more sustainable? I'll bet you anything that we are better off without you then the reverse.

Cities are the backbone of consumptive capitalist living and fascist state control; I want nothing to do with them. So yes, stop urban sprawl; stop urbanity all together. Come live with nature, its really very pleasant.

And Kropotkin our blueberries really are very good [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]



Originally posted by It's Me D:
[b]If this was a serious comment...[/b]

It was an extremely serious comment.

Take a look outside of most any major city in North America where you will see the single homes sitting on large acre sized lots. These are not high production farms. They are wasteful estates and hobby farms.

It is a serious issue in Southern Alberta.


A bit of back ground material about "rural sprawl".

[url=http://www.mrsc.org/subjects/planning/rural/daniels.aspx]What to Do About Rural Sprawl?[/url]

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

[url=http://www.craikecovillage.ca/]Maybe this is a better solution.[/url]

Rural and sustainable...

It's Me D

Scooter thank you for elaborating on your comment.


Take a look outside of most any major city in North America where you will see the single homes sitting on large acre sized lots.

I would have called this suburbia, as it is surrounding an urban centre. This is very different than rural villages and towns which, in this area anyway, have existed for hundreds of years. I certainly agree suburbia is a problem.


It is a serious issue in Southern Alberta.

I will be attending a conference of rural municipalities in Alberta in a couple weeks, I hope I will learn more about this. It is certainly not such a problem here; but then again I assume it is a problem associated with "prosperity" and we are short on that here [img]tongue.gif" border="0[/img]

The article's description of "rural sprawl" (divided into two types) is a little different than yours:


The first is low-density residential development that is scattered outside of villages, suburbs, and smaller cities. The second type of rural sprawl is commercial strip development along arterial highways leading into and out of villages, suburbs, and smaller cities.

As the article suggests this is a planning problem, and one that most municipal administrators and planners here are quite aware of. The article suggests seven steps to be taken in dealing with this phenomenon, I want you to know that (here) most of these steps are actually required of municipalities and in fact most exceed these requirements and have taken all seven steps. I am surprised that these steps are novel or new in the US; if that is also the case in Alberta I'm sure I will find out when I come out there shortly.

Thanks for mentioning this. It doesn't change my opinion on rural life as both more sustainable and more pleasant than its urban equivalent, however I will certainly acknowledge that making/keeping it this way takes serious work on the part of municipal administrators like myself.

ETA: cross-posted with Timebandit. That website is interesting and I certainly wish them well on their project however I don't think building new rural communities is really necessary or pheasible here; in fact there is a lot to be learned from traditional rural living (much of which was forcibly un-learned which is most unfortunate).

[ 20 June 2008: Message edited by: It's Me D ]

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

My point is that the community in my link is avoiding some of the pitfalls that scooter's link highlights vis infrastructure.

I think the rationale of building more is that this is a community that has lost half its population and is on the verge of losing businesses, school, etc, -- the things that make a rural community viable. Many have dwindled to nothing in these parts.

It's Me D



I think the rationale of building more is that this is a community that has lost half its population and is on the verge of losing businesses, school, etc, -- the things that make a rural community viable. Many have dwindled to nothing in these parts.

This is a problem here as well; including in my own town.

In reading the site you linked with next to no knowledge of Saskatchewan I really missed a lot! I basically only found this from the linked site:


Planning for a new sustainable housing development or Eco-Village, consisting of several families living sustainably, was initiated during the summer of 2005. Participants in the Eco-Village will be expected to build energy efficient housing on separately deeded, unserviced lots 38 m (125 feet) by 30.5 m (100 feet).

I wrongly assumed this was a new planned community, not a project to revitalize an existing one. Thanks for provoking me to look into it more.

I do wonder about the sustainability of this though,


unserviced lots

For anyone else in the same situation as me:

[url=http://www.craik.ca/]Town of Craik Official Homepage[/url]

[url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craik,_Saskatchewan]Wikipedia entry on the Town of Craik[/url]

[url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craik_Sustainable_Living_Project]Wikipedia entry on the Craik Sustainable Living Project[/url]

Now that I read all that I am more interested in the project's applicability here. I think there was a slightly less ambitious but similar project on the South Shore of NS a number of years back. I will see if I can find a link.

I'll be following this project for sure. Maybe someone from Craik will even be attending the conference of rural municipalities I spoke of.

[ 20 June 2008: Message edited by: It's Me D ]