Confirmation Bias: carbon taxes don’t work

The Elephant in the room: inconvenient truths. Ideologues like Conservative Premier Scott Moe in Saskatchewan rarely consult experts. They rely on opinions that reinforce their confirmation bias: carbon taxes don’t work. This is the state of politics today: extreme polarization.

Lie #1: The carbon tax is not a tax grab when it’s returned to consumers!

In BC, it’s revenue neutral. With the federal tax, 90% will be returned to consumers and 10% to businesses.

Lie #2:  Just because emissions rise, doesn’t mean the carbon tax isn’t working.

The Curious Case of Counterfactuals. ” …what does it mean if emissions rise over time, even with a carbon tax in place? It might mean that the price is too low, but it sure doesn’t mean the tax isn’t working. Interestingly, there’s a Canadian case that reflects this exact trend. B.C. implemented its carbon tax in 2008, and although emissions have fallen per capita, they’ve risen overall. What’s up? Does the B.C. carbon tax mean we should change our tune on carbon pricing? Short answer: No.”

More info:

Kevin Milligan, an expert on actual data and counterfactuals, explains it in his Twitter thread. “Obviously, to meet commitments to absolute declines in emissions, we need to do more than just bend the curve. But in arguing whether a particular policy moves us toward that goal, bending the curve is the right metric. And I think more easily understood than ‘counterfactual’.

The right policy questions are almost always:
* Does this move us in the right direction.
* By how much.
* At what cost.
We should reject analysis of the type: “if this one tool doesn’t solve the whole problem we should reject that tool and do nothing.”

More of this thread at:

Confirmation bias ignores inconvenient truths

Inconvenient Truth #1:

BC has the highest carbon tax in Canada. Yes they do but they just increased it from Alberta’s $30 rate last year, and not long enough ago to assess whether the $5.00 increase had an effect on emissions or not.
Remember Lie #2: ” It might mean that the [carbon] price is too low”

Inconvenient Truth #2:

Newly published paper finds that BCs carbon tax significantly REDUCED residential natural gas consumption.

The Impact of British Columbia’s Carbon Tax on Residential Natural Gas Consumption

“We analyze the impact of British Columbia (BC)’ s carbon tax on residential natural gas consumption

“We estimate the response to the BC carbon tax using regression and synthetic control methods, with a panel of Canadian provinces and US states spanning 1990 to 2014.

“BC’s carbon tax decreased residential natural gas consumption by between 6.9% and 10.1%”

More info: …

Remember that “emissions have fallen per capita” under lie #2!

Inconvenient Truth #3 The old Liberal government (aka Conservative) knew it was not going to hit its GHG emissions target but didn’t do anything about it. The new NDP government just last year set new goals to cut emissions. 

B.C. sets new targets to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2040

“The former Liberal government introduced legislated goals a decade ago to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent by 2020. In 2015, the government said it could not hit that target….”

More articles and political lies at: Carbon Taxes on Lie Tracker

SEE my 40- post twitter thread on carbon taxes: the lies that Conservatives tell their followers omit inconvenient truths


Confirmation bias:  “also called confirmatory bias or mysidebias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning.”