Canada is now one step closer to having polluters across the country pay for their carbon emissions. In the face of opposition from some premiers, some industries, and the official opposition in Ottawa, the Canadian government unveiled how it will create a standard that applies fairly across the country. It also presented how individual households will benefit.
This is an important step to fight climate change. Pollution already costs us. And taking action to reduce carbon pollution has clear health benefits due to cleaner air, fewer heat waves, and less exposure to climate disasters like floods and tornados. It also makes clean, renewable energy more affordable, putting Canada in a better place to maximize economic opportunities in sectors already booming.
This is not a radical proposition. Already 70 countries – representing half the world’s population – have a price on carbon.
In provinces that have resisted carbon pricing (Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba, and New Brunswick), the federal government is returning the revenue to households. According to government estimates, eight out of ten households in those provinces will be better off, because the vast majority of the fuel charge revenue collected from both households and industry will be returned only to households. (Those that may feel a slight sting will mostly be the highest income households.)
On top of that, the federal system will provide direct support to municipalities, schools and universities, hospitals, Indigenous communities, and small- and medium-sized businesses in those four provinces.
It’s too bad that the Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan governments have chosen not to put a price on carbon pollution. It means these provinces will miss out on taking control of billions of dollars in revenue, which could be used to fund their climate change plans. But the federal government’s plan will make sure polluters in these provinces continue to pay for their carbon pollution, and that their residents will benefit from an important tool to protect their health and environment now and in the future.
Given that polluter pay systems have been shown to be an effective part of the solution, it’s too bad that some politicians continue to fight it. Even more worrisome are politicians who are reluctant to express support for the Paris Agreement, the global climate pact that requires all countries to take action to reduce carbon pollution.
The recent scientific report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change detailed the grave consequences to humanity and the planet if Canada and the world fail to act urgently. Canada has taken an important step in doing its part to reduce the pollution that causes climate change.
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