EDIT: Carbon taxes will make us housing poor

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A new CD Howe Institute report on the cost of retrofitting Canada’s housing stock to become carbon neutral is a timely reminder that the financial impact of carbon pricing isn’t just being felt in Canada’s oil and gas and transportation sectors.

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These are the two biggest sectors of our economy affected by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions.

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The oil and gas sector emitted 179 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2020, the latest year for which government figures are available, while the transport sector emitted 159 million tonnes.

But the total emissions of 672 million tonnes are also the result of emissions in five other major sectors of our economy, including the third largest sector – buildings – which includes residential buildings, at 88 million tonnes.

This was followed by heavy industry (72 million tonnes), agriculture (69 million tonnes), electricity (56 million tonnes) and waste and ‘other’ meaning light manufacturing, construction, forestry and coal production (50 million tonnes ).

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Each of these economic sectors will require significant investment — paid for by Canadians as taxpayers or consumers — to meet Trudeau’s goals of reducing Canada’s emissions to 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030 and to zero by 2050

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In CD Howe’s report — “Just Hot Air? The Implications of Replacing Gas and Oil in Canadian Homes” — authors Charles DeLand and Alexander Vanderhoof estimate that the cost of making residential homes carbon neutral by 2050 will be up to $18,000 per single-family home, with prices varying from $12,000 to $17,000 for attached homes such as semis, townhouses and condos.

This is based on replacing greenhouse gas-emitting natural gas and oil used to heat air and often water in homes with electric heat pumps.

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The study estimates that the total cost to Canadian homeowners will be between $143 billion and $203 billion, with homes needing to be retrofitted at a rate of 1,158 per day.

Even that, the study found, would be insufficient to meet Trudeau’s emissions targets.

We need a real check in Canada of the true costs of reducing emissions, because right now it’s clear that many Canadians cannot afford the price that governments are raising, ostensibly on their behalf.

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