Electric-car subsidies take greenwashing to a new level – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – June 19, 2017)


Next month, Montreal will host a Formula E championship – an electric car race for which the city’s taxpayers will cough up $24-million in addition to guaranteeing a $10-million line of credit for the group organizing the event. All for the distinction of hosting a race no one’s heard of.

That’s even more than the $18.7-million that Ottawa, Quebec and Montreal pay Formula One owners each year to host the Canadian Grand Prix, the fossil-fuel-powered car race that draws thousands of tourists to the city each June. That makes the Formula E one pricey carbon offset.

It seems there is no length to which some politicians won’t go to in their drive to look greener than thou. His support for the carbon-spitting Grand Prix notwithstanding, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre fancies himself an environmental trailblazer, never missing a photo op that involves hugging an electric-vehicle (EV) charging station. He makes going green look so easy.

Easy, but not cheap. Subsidies aimed at encouraging the purchase of EVs are perhaps the least cost-effective and socially inequitable emissions-reduction measures imaginable. They typically favour well-heeled early adopters who would have bought an EV anyway. Yet, politicians keen to look green continue to throw good taxpayers’ green after bad.

Earlier this year, Ontario removed the $3,000 rebate cap on EVs costing more than $75,000, enabling wealthy Tesla buyers to claim a $14,000 subsidy on their luxury indulgence.

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