Canada can meet its international climate commitments without imposing a large and politically unpopular carbon tax, Simon Fraser University energy economist Mark Jaccard suggests in a new report.
That means the country “can bypass the political battle over carbon pricing and still meet its obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% from 2005 levels by 2030,” CBC reports.
To meet Canada’s that commitment, a carbon tax would have to start out at C$30 per tonne and increase to $200 by 2030, Jaccard said. But a more modest tax, combined with other forms of industry regulation, would run into less political resistance.
“A jurisdiction like California has avoided the battle and kept moving forward with regulations like changing the vehicle fleet and electricity generation,” a measure that is “almost as efficient as an emissions price.”
Matt Horne, a Pembina Institute associate director who served on British Columbia’s Climate Leadership Team, agreed that pricing is just one part of a broader carbon reduction plan. “The reality is that a meaningful climate plan is going to need a bunch of different pieces working together,” he told CBC. “There is a tendency to boil it down to shorthand, which in some cases just focuses on the carbon price.” But “we have to look at a mix of carbon pricing and regulations.”
In the Globe and Mail, meanwhile, Editorial Page Editor Tony Keller argues that the federal government holds an important advantage in its effort to bring all provinces and territories into a national carbon pricing system.
“In dealing with provinces that aren’t onside, [Environment and Climate Minister Catherine] McKenna comes armed with a negotiating trump card: If they won’t tax carbon themselves, Ottawa could do it for them—and keep the money,” he writes. “Think of it as the Canada Health Act in reverse.”
In the federal vision of a pan-Canadian climate plan, “each province can design its own levy, keep all of the revenues, and use the cash however it wants, for tax cuts, public transit, green research, deficit reduction, whatever,” Keller adds. “But if a province fails to bring in a carbon levy? Then Ottawa could impose one, solely on that province. And if Ottawa ever does that, it will decide where the money comes from and how it gets spent.
“It’s a threat designed to drive any holdout premier bananas. The goal is to ensure that carbon pricing is national, yet entirely in provincial hands.”