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EDITORIAL – Green tax on pickups would help switch from fossil fuels

(Image: Mel Rothenburger.

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

A GREEN TAX on pickup trucks might seem like a great idea, or the dumbest thing ever dreamed up by government, depending on your point of view.

One thing is certain, though — such a tax would have a big impact on Canadians. Roughly one-in-four new auto sales in this country is a pickup truck, and all you have to do to confirm that is to drive down just about any street in town.

Trucks and SUVs have taken over from sedans and vans. In large metropolitan areas, of course, trucks are less popular because people don’t need them to haul stuff around as much as they do in a place like Kamloops.

Pickups are expensive to maintain and expensive to drive but, for many, they’re a necessity. For others, they’re for recreation and the fun of operating a big vehicle. And there’s the rub — a tax on pickup trucks used mostly for recreation or day-to-day personal commutes might be justifiable but less palatable for those who use trucks as farm vehicles or even household hauling.

Be that as it may, they’re gas guzzlers, part of the fossil-fuel problem. The prospect of a green tax on pickups has been raised by Conservative party leadership hopeful Pierre Pollievre, who claims the Liberals plan to “slap thousands in new taxes on anyone who buys a truck.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and others have joined the call, prompting the Liberals to deny they’re planning any such thing. The idea came within an obscure environmental report suggesting it as one way to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

But it’s not such a bad idea. Tax revenues — $1,000 on the new-sticker price for pickups, up to $4,000 for heavy-duty trucks — could help the transition away from fossil fuels. And, by the way, I drive a pickup truck, though it certainly isn’t new.

Something to think about, instead of anti-tax knee-jerk political reactions.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (8893 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on EDITORIAL – Green tax on pickups would help switch from fossil fuels

  1. Rob Higgins // April 23, 2022 at 10:25 AM // Reply

    The photo makes apparent another issue that one person commented upon. The height of a pick-up truck hood (they have increased 24% since 2000) makes these lethal to pedestrians, cyclists and anyone in a wheelchair. While vehicle occupant safety has been prioritized and subsequent deaths have declined, pedestrian deaths have increased 50% in the past decade. Europe and Japan both now require pick-up truck hood designs to minimize pedestrian lethality. Nothing here and pedestrian deaths increase. Apparently our best selling SUVs and pick-ups are closely approaching the size of a tank from WWII.

  2. Hi Mel. We already have a tax on pick ups. It’s called a carbon tax and it makes much more sense than your proposal.

  3. I agree Mel. A tax on pick-up trucks would a great idea. Some locations could be exempt, like farms and ranches – but there are many many city dwellers who drive trucks and never haul a 5th wheel or a trailer, and who rarely, if ever, transport anything requiring the space of a pick-up. Now with the extended cab and thus extra length, such trucks take up more than their share of space in parking lots. In addition, as a short person who drives a Prius hybrid, I have come close to being hit while walking (my height takes me just to the top of the hood), and while driving (Prius is lower than back of some pick-ups and can’t be seen by driver backing up). The latter two issues probably don’t apply to most people, but the gas-guzzling use of fossil fuels concerns me, while the parking issue annoys me – and others no doubt feel the same way..

  4. Sean McGuinness // April 21, 2022 at 9:15 AM // Reply

    Fine, tax truck owners. However, it should be said that there is a lot of inconsistency and hypocrisy in the Feds climate change measures. On the one hand, one can tax buyers of trucks, but on the other hand we are allowing people to fill their tanks with gas refined from some of the dirtiest oil on the planet — the Alberta oil sands. If the ultimate goal is to reduce CO2 emissions, then to do this Canada has to confront several Gorillas in the room first. Trudeau’s can slap whatever tax he wants on consumers, but if at the same time he is expanding pipelines, then his policies will simply be viewed as contradictory and ineffective.

  5. My three quarter ton diesel pickup is now nineteen years old, has nearly three hundred thousand kilometers on it, has hauled campers and trailers and boats, and gravel and firewood, and cost zero repair dollars..,,,only routine maintenance and tires. …three sets of them. And it still manages to go twenty odd kilometers on a liter of diesel…the most reliable and efficient vehicle I have ever owned …maintaining its use is far more environmentally friendly than producing a new one, or owning several purpose-specific vehicles.,.get a grip…..

  6. I have been saying that for years. I am enthused the Armchair mayor has finally wrote an editorial on the subject. There should also be a municipal tax on pick-ups paid annual at insurance renewal. Big diesel ones should have the tax doubled.

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