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Big-Government Environmentalism Wears Out Its Welcome

While the three remaining presidential candidates try to out-green each other, the rest of the world is rebelling at the astronomical costs involved. “Somehow” this rebellion has received little U.S. media attention. This explains how Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain can still advocate government- and tax-heavy approaches with straight faces.

Meanwhile, my nearly daily emails from the indefatigable Benny Peiser of CCnet, whose assemblages of environment and science links and summaries are essential for anyone who wants to keep up with worldwide environmentalist mischief, tell me that:

  • Governments elsewhere are balking at meeting mandatory targets for reducing so-called greenhouse emissions. A recent G8- and Europe-related example is here (“Rich nations must lead on climate change: UN official”).
  • Those same governments are using “climate protection” as a crutch as they attempt to do what governments do best — raise taxes.
  • Citizens, and politicians preferring to remain in office, are saying “Enough!”

Fortunately, government attempts at fiscal extraction are not faring well. First, from Germany:

“German Car Tax Plan to Be Delayed — Government”

The German government’s controversial plans to change rules on car tax from 2009 to take exhaust emissions into account will likely be delayed further, government officials said on Friday.

… The measures, part of a climate protection package agreed last year, have stoked tensions within Germany’s ruling conservative-Social Democrat coalition.

The measures need the backing of the upper house Bundesrat where the 16 states are represented as they receive around 9 billion euros ($14.2 billion) of annual income from the levy.

In Canada, a columnist who supports that country’s Liberal Party and appears to buy into “global warming” sees big political danger:

“The Suicidal Allure of a Carbon Tax”

If a carbon tax is to define and decide the next federal election in Liberal favour, Stéphane Dion will have to be a ghostbuster. Even though he seems blissfully oblivious, the Liberal leader’s bold gambit is haunted by the bad memory of too many other big ideas.

… There’s no doubt that a specific carbon tax is a political accident waiting to happen.

Then there’s Australia:

“The Sun Sets on Rudd’s Climate Change Credibility”

Kevin Rudd’s climate change honeymoon ended last week.

… Most Australians when surveyed want the government to fix climate change. But they also want cheaper petrol and electricity. Labor has been happy to play to this information disconnect by indulging voters’ naivety about what is coming, allowing them to believe these symbolic acts would be enough to solve the problem.

So they can hardly cry foul when the same voters turned on them.

In New Zealand:

“Emissions Bill Hanging by Thread”

The government’s flagship plan to combat global warming is hanging by a thread as National [the National Party — Ed] withdraws support for the Emissions Trading Scheme.

In a policy announcement on Sunday morning, leader John Key has revealed the party will not be supporting the scheme in its current form.

… Key says the government is cutting corners and risking people’s financial security in order to reach a political deadline for the ETS.

But the backlash is worst in the UK. Because of it, Gordon Brown may not be prime minister much longer. Just as Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax wrecked her once-assumed invincibility in 1990, Brown’s “Green Road Tax” (in essence, a per-vehicle levy of up to £440, or about $870, on “environmentally unfriendly cars”), as well as angry lorry drivers (truckers) who are incensed over higher fuel taxes, threaten to do the same to him.

For these and other reasons, Brown’s supply of political capital has shrunk dangerously. This month alone, his Labour Party suffered its worst drubbing in 40 years in local elections, including the London mayor’s race, and followed it three weeks later by losing control of a district it had held for 30 years.

Upping the UK madness ante, a group of MPs has proposed “personal carbon credits.” I’m not kidding:

The government should push ahead with a “radical” system of personal “carbon credits” if it wants to meet emissions targets, a committee of MPs has said.

They said people would be able to engage with the scheme, which would see everybody given an annual carbon limit to “spend” on items such as fuel and energy bills.

Those who wanted to spend more than their limit would be able to buy extra credits from low carbon emitters.

This prompted one Times Online columnist to ask, “What next? Little (green) Hitlers patrolling the streets?” I’m wondering when they will take up differences in individuals’ breathing rates and generation of flatulence.

What is happening outside the U.S. should be instructive to our presidential contenders. If Obama, Clinton, and McCain think they’ll somehow have an easier time pushing direct and indirect carbon-related taxes and cap-and-trade schemes on the public, I have a two-word reminder from the, uh, ash heap of 1993 history: BTU tax.

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