Making the Polluter Pay

A question repeatedly occurs to me. “Why are the cigarette manufacturers still in business ?”, I ask myself, when I look at how much effort, money and time goes into helping smokers become non-smokers.

London Lite 1st April 2009
“Anti-smoking ad is ‘too scary for kids’ : by Bo Wilson : A GOVERNMENT anti-smoking advert could frighten or distress young children because it preys on their fears by suggesting that their parents might die, the advertising watchdog ruled today. More than 60 people complained that the “Scared” campaign on TV and radio would cause children stress or worry by suggesting their parents could die imminently if they smoked.”

Metro 2nd April 2009
“Cigarette costs war vet £100 : A VETERAN smoker has seen the price of tobacco rocket over the years but he never imagined a single cigarette would cost him £100. But that is the price Cyril Carter was forced to pay when he was “fined” for lighting up in his hotel room.”

After a concerted campaign to free people from the dangers of smoking over more than ten years, it seems that tobacco fascism still hasn’t been able to close down the cigarette makers.

They still have a market, and shareholders, globally. “Freedom of choice” ideological arguments are still raised about continuing to allow people the option to smoke – and thereby guaranteeing that the cigarette companies don’t fold.

Although the polluter has been made to pay in many ways, through legal action, and state restrictions on such things as advertising, the companies are still in business.

But wouldn’t it be better to re-tool the cigarette factories to start making other leaf-based products and so eliminate the health scourge of smoking forever ? And should the tobacco companies pay from their own capital to do so ?

Yes, there are “opening markets” for tobacco products in less well-regulated parts of the World outside Europe and North America, but smoking still causes cancer, still kills. Should selling cigarettes be made illegal ? An outright ban would only do us good. Taxation and market restriction are not sufficient to remove the health risks that tobacco poses.

The same line of thinking can be applied to Carbon Dioxide Emissions. Forget Carbon Trading, Carbon Taxation, Carbon Auctions. Make Carbon Emissions effectively illegal except through individual citizen allowances, and then the Carbon Energy companies will be forced to pay to transition out of Carbon into Green.

The citizens will be made to pay if any form of Carbon Price is applied. With Carbon Trading, restrictions on the total supply of Carbon will allow for companies to hustle to get the rights to burn Carbon, to protect their current business practices, and pass the cost onto their customers. With Carbon Taxation, the companies will pass the costs onto their customers. With Carbon Auctions, the companies will pass on the costs to their customers. And so the initial Polluter will not Pay.

The whole idea of Environmental Taxation (or Charge, or Levy, or Auction) is to elicit the dirty players to clean up, but you can be sure that it will be cheaper for companies to pass the Carbon Costs onto their customers rather than move out of Carbon.

Since there are very few sources of Energy that are Low Carbon or Zero Carbon, since modern society is so dependent on Carbon Energy, there is nowhere where the customers can move to. You either buy Carbon from one company, or buy Carbon from another. That’s not choice, and it’s not going to be improved by pricing Carbon, because instead of Carbon Reductions we will have the same Carbon being burned, but the extra cost passed on to the end consumer.

Just like VAT (Value Added Tax) is always charged to the end consumer, any form of pricing Carbon will be charged to the citizens, not the corporates who will continue to burn to support their businesses.

The final solution is to ban Carbon, or have your business closed down for you, which will incentivise the move out of Carbon, I guarantee you.

Everything else is an non-functioning compromise, rather like the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.

There’s no problem of this being a vote loser – those who will be charged with getting rid of their Carbon Assets will not be the citizens.

Too bad the Governments will not get any tax revenue out of such a measure.

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