Sample Research Paper on Federal Carbon Tax

Global warming has been deemed one of the biggest socio-economic challenges of modern times. While people are continuously reducing their environmental footprint, corporations are notorious for producing these carbon emissions without being charged for it. In a bid to curb these emissions, some scholars have proposed the introduction of a federal carbon tax in Ottawa. British Columbia has already introduced it, and so some people think that Ottawa should follow. Critics have come out strongly opposing the introduction of the carbon tax, arguing that the proposed benefits will be outweighed by economic losses. Below is a summary of the arguments and a critique of both.

A report by the David Suzuki Foundation argues that pricing carbon emissions is the best way to combat climate change. The tax will generate revenues upwards of $50 billion. This revenue will be used to reduce personal income taxes for consumers. Another portion will be appropriated to spur green innovation by funding renewable energy such as solar and wind power. If the revenues are used well, the economic impact of a carbon price on regions relying on carbon-intensive activities will be reduced while also spurring economic growth(Jaccard, 2008).

The National Post was, however, quick to offer a rebuttal to the Suzuki report. The Post asserts that the carbon tax is an example of a Pigovian tax and has no place in a market economy. Furthermore, the Suzuki report asserts that the atmosphere can no longer be used as a dump, which is pure rhetoric and unhindered fact. The benefits the Suzuki report highlights do not mention the increase in gasoline price by about 50% or the economic losses of $45 billion annually from the reduction in carbon-based energy consumption.

While the two pieces are informative and expand our thinking on the issue, they are biased and incomplete. The Suzuki report, for instance, fails to take into account the effect that the tax will have on the economy. When corporate taxes are introduced, the burden falls on the consumers in the form of increased product prices (Bartlett, 2013). The lowered income taxes will, therefore, be offset by increased prices, thus adding no value to consumers. The report also fails to account for the reduced economic activity arising from the carbon tax or the rise in gasoline prices. Furthermore, the report is modeled on the Pigovian tax scheme, one where government intervention leads to market disequilibrium and adverse effects (Bovenberg, 1996). The Suzuki report also contends that a consensus on the prospect of double dividends from such a tax is “weak,” albeit in a footnote.

The critique by the National Post is in itself not without flaws. First, the critique fails to disprove the viability of the carbon tax. The report states that the models in the Suzuki report were controlled by Jaccard, not that they were wrong. According to the critique, the only way that the carbon tax can fail is if the government policy on how to utilize the resulting funds is flawed. The posting also fails to offer an alternative to the carbon tax that can be used to combat climate change. The Suzuki report provides a way to reduce the carbon emissions from industries, not that the economic footprint of pollution will be eliminated. In its critique, the National Post attacks this statement saying “The atmosphere will continue to be used as a dump so long as humans are allowed to exist.” By so doing, the National Post is premature in its understanding of what the Suzuki report intends by its actions and recommendations.

In discussing the consideration for Federal Carbon tax, a TV spot would be the best forum. A TV forum where proponents and opponents of the carbon tax should be aired on major TV stations, and at a time when most families are expected to tune in. Andrew Greenin his article on Understanding Television Audiences articulates that television offers impact through sound pictures and motion. It can reach more people quickly, and also has “talk ability.” Numerous studies show that most other media define themselves in relation to television and that television’s share in communicating is higher today than it was ten years ago (Green, 2011). Matthew J. Dickson, a professor of political science at Middlebury College, opines that television posts provide a head-to-head comparison that allows for back-and-forth, something no other medium can.

A television post has its advantages and disadvantages. The benefits include a wider reach. Prime time TV reaches a larger audience than any other medium can. Most policy-makers  do not engage in other media like YouTube and Twitter. A television post also allows the audience to assess the credibility of the speaker. If the discussion is in a debate format, for example, the back-and-forth captivates audiences and enables them to think critically about the concern. TV postings also have a greater influence on perception and comparison than any other media. The disadvantages of a TV posting include the inability of the audience to get involved in the discussion. Unlike other mediums, TV posts have little room for comments and may thus hinder the contribution from the audience. TV posts also are exhibited once and pass. In medium like anewspaper, the article will remain in the public domain for a long time afterward.

While the authors of the two articles did a lot to further their agenda, they could have included some more information and excluded yet others. In the Suzuki report, a naysayer to the issue of the tax affecting market equilibrium and operation would have hindered critics from establishing the fact that the tax involves a bureaucratic process. The authors should also have included the perspective and opinions of ordinary citizens with regards to the carbon tax. The disadvantages or adverse effects of such a tax on all the involved parties should also have been included in their analysis.

The National Post article failed to mention a few things. They failed to explain convincingly what was wrong with the Suzuki report. The authors ignored the relevant arguments and assertions made in the Suzuki report. They also spent too much trying to disprove the analysis and models used in the Suzuki report, without giving concrete proof of the models’ ineffectiveness. They then delved into the British Columbia case, which was a stray from the central point of refuting the report. By asserting that British Columbia had used the Suzuki report to implement the Carbon tax, they lay credence to the fact that, in fact, the tax could be useful.  In their rebuttal, they also failed to take advantages of omissions in the Suzuki report.

In conclusion, both sides to the Federal Carbon tax made a strong claim as to why their opinion should be considered. The Suzuki report offered convincing arguments and even used models to show the benefits of imposing a carbon tax. The National Post also did an excellent job in trying to water down the Suzuki report. However, their refutation process was lacking in detail and reasons as to why the Suzuki report should be dismissed. Much debate about climatic change and the role that corporations play is ongoing. Measures to curb the change are still being deliberated upon, and hopefully a good model will be arrived at in the near future.

References

Bartlett, B. (2013, February 19). Who Pays the Corporate Income Tax.

Bovenberg, A. L. (1996, September). Optimal Environmental Taxation in the. American Economic, 86, 20-104.

Green, A. (2011, September). Understanding television audiences. Warc Best Practice, 1-8.

Jaccard, M. K. (2008). Pricing Carbon: Saving Green – A Carbon Price to Lower Emissions, Taxes. Vancouver: David Suzuki Foundation.