Canada Day and BC’s carbon tax

What better way to celebrate Canada Day than by raising British Columbia’s carbon tax as scheduled? It affirms British Columbians’ commitment to a safe and resilient future for people, a concern for the physical integrity of Canada, and a belief (perhaps naive) that pricing carbon pollution will encourage private businesses, the public sector, and individuals to reduce their emissions.

Yet, despite the urgent need to reduce our emissions, BC’s carbon tax is maligned by carbon-dependent businesses and threatened by nervous politicians.

BC’s environment minister Terry Lake said before the Canada Day increase:

There are no plans to get rid of the carbon tax. Premier Christy Clark has made it very clear we want to be a leader on climate action policies. But when you are a leader you expect others to follow. When other jurisdictions aren’t following, you get into a problem of competitiveness.

Another jurisdiction is following, putting a price on carbon this week. Australia is launching its carbon tax [AJE video] and, more critically, the climate crisis has worsened considerably since BC’s tax was introduced.

BC’s carbon tax can still be improved. Revenues should be shifted to resilience-boosting infrastructure investments (like public transit, inter-city bike and rail networks, broadband) and support for lower-income individuals, especially students and families. With this being the last scheduled carbon price increase, at $30/tonne it has far to go before reaching the $200/tonne called for by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

A clear schedule of price increases is urgently needed for businesses and individuals to make decisions about the future. Uncertainty in the regional price of carbon makes long-term investments riskier and makes it more difficult to take action against serious threats to us and our neighbours.

British Columbia’s government must set a date for $200/tonne carbon and adhere to it. That schedule can be adjusted over time but we need to lay out the broad outline for people making long-term decisions affected by the price of carbon.

So, if you’re filling up your car-share vehicle in BC and notice gasoline is more costly, celebrate. BC decided to increase the price of carbon so we could reduce our emissions and limit global warming. Re-commit to dealing with climate change in your community and schedule the price of carbon.