COLUMN: Carbon tax on gas-guzzlers fails to fire a spark

Switching drivers over to greener vehicles is going to take a lot more than just empty promises.

This wasn’t my first all-candidates meeting rodeo. Last time it involved some swearing. I think even a shoe was thrown across the room.

Last week’s meeting at EMCS was far more civilized, expected, with Mayor Maja Tait at the helm as moderator.

The hot topic that night was reducing the carbon footprint that we leave daily the very moment we turn an engine on. A whole bunch of pie-in-the-sky (albeit good) ideas were tossed around, including the idea of taxing carbon and feeding back that cash into Canadians’ pockets.

Sounds great, but how will that get back into my pocket? Will that taxation (which, for my seal-clubbing, gas-burning ‘93 Explorer is probably close to execution) roll back into my pocket as incentives to switch over to an electric car?

I seriously doubt it, though maybe if I gave in to the same kind of wishful thinking of politicians, I’d have an electric car by now. Classic case in point was a comment by Green candidate Frances Litman, which of course, gathered high applause.

“We’re realistic, we understand we’re using oil and gas every day and we have plastics, but we need to ween ourselves from this extract and export system that we’re in.”

While I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Litman’s statement, again, I keep wondering, how are we going to ween ourselves from those sources? Reality is, we cannot just simply displace millions of drivers who rely on their petrol vehicles without giving them an alternative they can actually afford.

Bottom line is, both electrics and hybrids are still hilariously expensive.

Telsa has made huge leaps in the last 10 years or so in regards to its development of the Model S, its drivetrain and battery range, but the cheapest model is still $65K.

Sure, a new, even cheaper model will be available this fall for the rest of us mortals, but it’s still going to cost a minimum of $30K. You could even look at the Nissan Leaf, a full electric hatchback, or the Chevy Volt or Toyota Prius, both of which still rely on petrol engines to recharge their batteries.

No doubt, all great alternatives, but who can afford them?

You want to encourage people going towards alternatives such as hybrids or plug-in electrics? Bring the cost down. Bring the taxes down. Put the incentives on steroids and make them in the thousands. Lower the apple to the rest of us mortals who cannot afford $500 a month for a new car, let alone a hybrid or electric.

Bold promises may bring thundering applause, but solid delivery that you can actually feel in your pocket is what makes the real difference.

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Octavian Lacatusu is a News Mirror reporter. He can be reached by email at news@sookenewsmirror.com.