Our climate action dividends arrived today. For non-British Columbian readers, the provincial government has seen fit to bestow CAN $100 on every person with a British Columbian address. This cash-in-hand accompanies new taxes and new tax cuts. From the brochure that accompanied our cheques:
New tax reductions, new programs and the Climate Action Dividend are all designed to support your climate smart choices. Whether you purchase energy-efficient light bulbs, shop locally for produce, or use your dividend to help purchase eco-friendly upgrades in your home, your decisions can make a big difference.
First, a couple of petty complaints about the brochure itself:
- There are photos of nine people on it, and eight of them are women and girls. Subtext: men can’t be bothered with the environment.
- The English side of the brochure prominently features a photo of a (forgive me) very dorky, glasses-wearing girl clutching a sapling. Subtext: only nerds care about the environment.
- The phrase ‘global warming’ is three times as popular on the web as ‘climate change’. Yet the brochure only uses the latter term. Subtext: the government’s PR firm set the messaging instead of picking terms that people actually use.
I think this is an idiotic program. The vast majority of British Columbians are going to spend this money the same way they spend every other dollar. If the government wants to make the environment a priority, then they ought to invest the $440 million in measurable initiatives that are in the public interest.
However, I’m prepared to be convinced otherwise. Who wants to mount a rational, evidence-based argument in favour of the climate action dividend? I think I was out of the country when this announced, so I missed the initial flurry of punditry.
I tried to do this for myself. My first point was the citation of the Canada Child Tax Benefit or ‘baby bonus’. I did find some (hardly definitive) evidence that it increases the birth rate. Still, I’m not sure that comparing it to this one-off cheque is an apples to apples argument.