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It was a real surprise. I thought it was just another tax related thing, but it turned out to be a $100 cheque from the BC government trying to make it “easier for British Columbians to choose a lower carbon lifestyle”. Immediately I asked my friend Google to see what’s going on. It turns out that people were talking about this back in Feburary this year, and I have no idea probably because I was away. Apparently they give out $440 million (plus another $10 million for the cost of delivery the cheques) in total out of the 2007/08 surplus.

I think this is ineffective. Of course, I am only speculating, because I don’t know exactly how each household will spend their dividend. However, I can imagine that once the cheques are deposited, people will not remember what this money is for. While it might give a nudge to those who are already considering making changes, the majority of the population still lack the motivation, crucial information, and alternatives. Switching from incandescent to compact fluorescent light bulbs is easy, but what about upgrading insulation, heating system, or reduce driving? The official website does not provide concrete “next step” information either. At least they should compile a list of companies that offer energy saving upgrades.

Another question is why cheques? Why not direct deposits, tax credits, coupon cards that can only be used for energy saving purchases, or simply using the $440 million to improve our transit system? Perhaps it’s more about image building and making a statement. Handing out cheques (at a cost of $10 million) makes the distribution highly visible, like the way Bush did for his tax-cuts. I don’t know. Maybe there are technical considerations that I am unaware of.

How would I use the money? I don’t know yet. I might try out a low-flow showerhead (hope it doesn’t suck) or finally getting a 2nd hand bike with functional brakes. I’ll do all I can to avoid hypocrisy 😀


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