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Income and Carbon Inequality in BC
Eric De Place, 26 Apr 10

Smart guy Marc Lee has produced a short but very valuable analysis of carbon emissions in British Columbia. What he finds is both important and unsurprising: the province's wealthy are responsible for almost twice as much carbon as the poor.

In fact, the carbon gulf is probably much greater than it appears here. These figures include neither the emissions from airplane travel nor the indirect emissions in imported products, both of which are disproportionately the perquisites of the rich.

Yet there's good news in the analysis. Because of the way the emissions are distributed, it turns out that carbon price dividend policies -- things like "cap and dividend" or, perhaps, BC's carbon tax -- are economically progressive when the revenue is returned to residents on a per capita basis. In other words, if everyone pays a little extra for their carbon, and the funds are equally rebated, virtually everyone would come out ahead financially. (Oh, except for the richest 20 percent.)

Anyhow, good stuff. This is exactly the sort of analysis I'd like to see done in Oregon and Washington. I'd wager we would seen an even larger disparity in the states, owing to the fact that American income inequalities eclipse those of Canada.

Chart comes from a Climate Justice Project report, "By Our Own Emissions" by Marc Lee, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

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Comments

My own research shows this to be far (FAR) worse on a global scale, in terms of sifting through published reports of poverty, need & exclusion - and of personal experience, (e.g. even in the West, 'Free World', exclusion remains because National Statistics are simply not listed -e.g. 65% of all lone parents get NO maintenance. (It took 2 years for me to find that fact - from Professor S McKay, University of Birmingham).

According to www.globalissues.org 'Poverty Facts & Stats' (an at-a-glance 'league table') - and many other useful humanitarian websites, it appears to me that there is only about 20-25% of this Global Village, that have enough money to live sustainably and turn their own lives 'green' - and the vast majority of them, also appear to be the ones who are the carbon-rich.

(Worse still appears to be the sad fact, that as the richest people in this world are invariably the ones who rule it all, we end up with the scenario that the 'environmental criminals' are telling the world's poor: A) how THEY must reduce THEIR carbon footprint. and B) how THEY must live - without even noticing that they couldn't even afford to pay their own rent/put food on 'A' table for THEIR children, or even grow their own food - because they didn't have a garden at all!!

While flying around the world 100's of times, making their own voice heard by the myriad of paparazzi, geared to the commercial sale of their work, guaranteed by the 'rich & famous' headlines, - there is STILL no megaphone for over 80% of the Global Community which practically has NO carbon to use, BECAUSE they are just simply far too 'SMALL'.

Hypocrisy Gone MAD! - WHO is telling WHO? - To 'do' "WAT"?

While supposed 'grown-ups' ignore facts, children just keep on dying... 24,000 every single day, and its bound to get worse now, isn't it..!?

IF "WE" are to 'E'volve, is it not time that those who are ultimately responsible for environmental crime -WHO had the choice of buying a new car, or changing their heating fuels away from fossil, actually did so, at the same time as creating commissions to help the world's poor to LIVE & GREEN? (Ethical/Environmental)



Posted by: AnEarthMother on 27 Apr 10

Great find Eric.

I don't have the time right now to look into Marc's approach but based just on the results I'd suggest this is very conservative.

Anyway, no offence intended here, but it's unfortunate that the term "economically progressive" has come to mean some form of socialism. Not by any means that social policies are bad, or don't have their place. I just see it as a limited way of thinking about what "progressive" policy is or can look like.


Posted by: Matt on 27 Apr 10

One piece of information I would love to see is what happens if substitutions take place between direct and indirect emissions, separated by income level. When the direct emissions are reduced, are indirect emissions increased or decreased? If someone chooses not to drive their car for two weeks, saving, say $100, and decreasing their direct emissions, where do those savings go and do they end up causing an overall increase or decrease in overall emissions? Are they just transferred to indirect emissions? It's obvious by this chart, almost any study we see comparing developing vs developed countries' emissions, and common sense, that the poorer you are, the less overall emissions you create.


Posted by: Jameson on 28 Apr 10

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