Environmentalists claim that we need to change behaviour – that whatever financial pain the tax imposes, it’s a price worth paying because we don’t have the luxury of being distracted by “political” concerns.
But that, of course, is a political choice itself. The carbon tax only feeds into the decades-long perception that environmentalism is a class-blind movement and that belief has only made it easier for the populist right to capture portions of the working class. Yes, imposing a financial cost will alter consumption behaviour – the behaviour of those most vulnerable to its sting. When did that form of social policy earn the right to be celebrated?