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Catastrophic Climate Change: We Caused It; We're Going to Have to Fix It.

Tell Your Elected Officials to Remove Fossil Fuel Subsidies

In 2009, the G20 nations - including Canada's Conservative government - agreed to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies because they are drivers for climate change, but also because they distort economic (price) signals and create an inefficient energy market. By 2019, the Canadian government has not yet identified the subsidies it provides to the mostly foreign-owned oil and natural gas industry, nor has it eliminated any single subsidy. That's 10 years after signing an international commitment, and as the effects of climate change are becoming more evident every week. It's time our elected officials started serving the needs of citizens rather than multi-national corporations.

Try to imagine the difference eliminating fossil fuel subsidies would make to your personal finances. There are so many subsidies provided to the mostly foreign-owned oil industry in Canada, that federal government actually can't identify all of them. The government has actually had to appeal to the Canadian public to ask individuals to help them figure it out. (It's so unbelievable, I couldn't make this stuff up.) And they really do need some serious help, because their guesses to date have been egregiously off-base, more than once. So they can't possibly figure out how much of your taxes is going to expand the profits of this mature industry.

Some other parties have taken a stab at this. Like the International Monetary Fund - not exactly a bunch of treehuggers. For 2015, the IMF estimated Canadian fossil subsidies came to about $46 billion. A year. And that's before Justin Trudeau and Bill Morneau took $4.5 billion of Canadian taxpayer money to a U.S.-owned oil pipeline company in what may have been one of the most overpriced deals of the century. As the federal government admitted in their 2019 budget they have not yet eliminated a single fossil fuel subsidy since the 2009 G-20 commitment, let's assume the current subsidy level (for 2018) is $50 billion the $46 billion plus the $4.5 billion gift to Kinder-Morgan - rounded down to make a convenient number.

Assuming you are one of the 18 million or so Canadians who actually pay income taxes, on average, your share (per taxpayer) is roughly $2,800 per year after taxes (and growing). Who do you think needs that money more? You, or the massively profitable, mostly foreign-owned oil and gas industry?

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) provides a much lower number ($3.3 billion annually), but this number is for direct cash subsidies only. So, for example, it does not include royalty holidays or the perennial underpriced royalties charged by Alberta for the oil and gas extracted in that province. You can dig into IISD's numbers based on 2013-2015 data here.

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