In today’s news, there is some talk about the new report from the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. Much of it has surrounded the possibility of a carbon tax as a vehicle for assisting the with reduction of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions. One comment from the CBC struck me as especially wrong-headed. In relation to a carbon tax, a person being interviewed said that it “would specifically impact western oil producers who might have to carry the brunt of such attacks.”
The fallacy here is that western oil producers have the right to emit as many greenhouse gasses as they like, for free. If your neighbour was running a pulp mill in his back yard, allowing toxic chemicals to ooze throughout the neighbourhood, nobody would call it an ‘attack’ when he was made to stop. Arguments implying that industry or private individuals have the right to impose ecological harms upon others need to be challenged in terms of fairness and ethics. Otherwise, they obscure the true character of the situation and help to perpetuate the status quo.