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Published on April 5th, 2008 | by Clayton

31

Canada Unleashes First Carbon Tax in N. America


coal, power, energy, energy, emissions, carbon tax

[social_buttons] British Columbia will be the first in North America to institute a comprehensive carbon tax on nearly all fossil fuels. It’s a groundbreaking move that could prove the feasibility of taxing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Beginning July 1st, 2008, businesses and residents of British Columbia will be taxed $10 per metric ton of carbon emitted by fuels such as gasoline, diesel, natural gas, coal, propane, and home heating fuel. The tax will increase yearly by $5 per ton to $30 per ton in 2012, at which point the government will reevaluate the tax rate.

Nicholas Rivers, an economist at Simon Fraser University, commented that “The tax comes in slowly, ramps up over time, and uses the revenue in a neutral way to reduce other distortionary taxes in the economy, which is just what economists have been recommending for more than a decade.”

While pundits have argued that this would never happen in the US, the tax was received with little opposition by residents of British Columbia. Designed to be revenue-neutral, the tax will return all of the income generated ($1.85 billion over 4 years) in the form of tax cuts and environmental rebates, and it should have little impact on the economy or competitiveness.

Even with this new tax, BC’s finance minister Carole Taylor says that by 2010 British Columbia will have the lowest total combined corporate tax rate (25%) among the world’s economies.

Which just happens to be one of the criticisms of the tax—that it will hit residents harder than major industry (isn’t that usually what happens?).

While the increasing price of polluting won’t dramatically effect emissions immediately (only 5-10% decline), the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) forecast that if the price of CO2 rose to $200 per ton by 2050, Canada’s emissions would drop 60% below current levels over the next 40 years.

I’ve always thought this was a great idea because it’s a relatively quick way to generate a huge revenue stream for alternative energy while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Even if it bumped up the price of gas a few cents, I’m not sure anyone would notice at this point.

What do you think about carbon taxes? Vote in the poll I started on the GreenOptions Discussion forums: Are carbon taxes a good or a bad idea?

Related Posts:

How Solar Panels Could Power 90% of US Transportation

How Biodiesel Fuel-Cells Could Power The Future (And Your Car)

Switchgrass Could Displace 30% of US Petroleum Usage With 94% GHG Reduction

Source: ES&T (Mar. 17 08): First comprehensive carbon tax in North America




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About the Author

In a past life, Clayton was a professional blogger and editor of Gas 2.0, Important Media’s blog covering the future of sustainable transportation. He was also the Managing Editor for GO Media, the predecessor to Important Media.



  • Uncle B

    Petty Canadian Bureaucratic sharks feasting on environmental issues in order to propagate themselves! Screwing the little guy is not new, but doing it in the name of something as important as the environment is psychotic to say the least! By the time the country bumpkin conservative party in Canada wakes up to how really stupid they are, they will have sold Canada’s fresh water for the lowest royalties in the world to their idols, the Bush govnt. Count on Bushes’ boys to take the water and run, as they did with western oil,

    destroying a huge ecosystem in the process! We don’t need a carbon tax, we need a prime minister with balls and the business sense of a corner store owner or better. Taxing western oil interests with a carbon tax makes better sense, since they profit from a huge environmental disaster and have the money, as a cost of doing business to spend.

  • Uncle B

    Petty Canadian Bureaucratic sharks feasting on environmental issues in order to propagate themselves! Screwing the little guy is not new, but doing it in the name of something as important as the environment is psychotic to say the least! By the time the country bumpkin conservative party in Canada wakes up to how really stupid they are, they will have sold Canada’s fresh water for the lowest royalties in the world to their idols, the Bush govnt. Count on Bushes’ boys to take the water and run, as they did with western oil,

    destroying a huge ecosystem in the process! We don’t need a carbon tax, we need a prime minister with balls and the business sense of a corner store owner or better. Taxing western oil interests with a carbon tax makes better sense, since they profit from a huge environmental disaster and have the money, as a cost of doing business to spend.

  • Uncle B

    Petty Canadian Bureaucratic sharks feasting on environmental issues in order to propagate themselves! Screwing the little guy is not new, but doing it in the name of something as important as the environment is psychotic to say the least! By the time the country bumpkin conservative party in Canada wakes up to how really stupid they are, they will have sold Canada’s fresh water for the lowest royalties in the world to their idols, the Bush govnt. Count on Bushes’ boys to take the water and run, as they did with western oil,

    destroying a huge ecosystem in the process! We don’t need a carbon tax, we need a prime minister with balls and the business sense of a corner store owner or better. Taxing western oil interests with a carbon tax makes better sense, since they profit from a huge environmental disaster and have the money, as a cost of doing business to spend.

  • claude larochelle

    the Province of Quebec too has a carbon taxk in place, a fact acknowledged and praised by Al Gore last night in his Montreal speech

  • claude larochelle

    the Province of Quebec too has a carbon taxk in place, a fact acknowledged and praised by Al Gore last night in his Montreal speech

  • claude larochelle

    the Province of Quebec too has a carbon taxk in place, a fact acknowledged and praised by Al Gore last night in his Montreal speech

  • http://stephenrees.wordpress.com Stephen Rees

    There might be more credibility for the government of BC if, at the same time as announcing a carbon tax, they were not determined to expand their freeways and build more of them. Of course they deny that they will generate more traffic, or encourage more sprawl. Not that they can point to anywhere where that has actually happened. Oh and they have a transit plan too. Just no money to fund it. And it won’t even start until the new freeway is open.

  • http://stephenrees.wordpress.com Stephen Rees

    There might be more credibility for the government of BC if, at the same time as announcing a carbon tax, they were not determined to expand their freeways and build more of them. Of course they deny that they will generate more traffic, or encourage more sprawl. Not that they can point to anywhere where that has actually happened. Oh and they have a transit plan too. Just no money to fund it. And it won’t even start until the new freeway is open.

  • http://stephenrees.wordpress.com Stephen Rees

    There might be more credibility for the government of BC if, at the same time as announcing a carbon tax, they were not determined to expand their freeways and build more of them. Of course they deny that they will generate more traffic, or encourage more sprawl. Not that they can point to anywhere where that has actually happened. Oh and they have a transit plan too. Just no money to fund it. And it won’t even start until the new freeway is open.

  • http://www.fileprompt.com free software

    Considering these days, it’s the poor who use a larger part of their income on fuel to get to work and keep warm, I can’t help thinking it doesn’t do much for them.

  • http://www.fileprompt.com free software

    Considering these days, it’s the poor who use a larger part of their income on fuel to get to work and keep warm, I can’t help thinking it doesn’t do much for them.

  • Cool Blue

    Quebec had a carbon tax months before BC did.

  • Cool Blue

    Quebec had a carbon tax months before BC did.

  • Cool Blue

    Quebec had a carbon tax months before BC did.

  • RReppy

    …I wish WE had leaders that knew their asses from a hole in the ground, here in the U.S.

    Instead, we’ve got Duhhhhbya and Dickie. Woe is us.

  • RReppy

    …I wish WE had leaders that knew their asses from a hole in the ground, here in the U.S.

    Instead, we’ve got Duhhhhbya and Dickie. Woe is us.

  • http://www.solidamerica.com gino

    Is time that every single world country start taking responsibility about fixing the globe atmosphere gases trouble, and if those steps in the process take a small contribution from citizens, it is right to do so. This are the news we are looking for. True good news of protecting our planet and improving the earth air quality. British Columbia is a beautiful city of Canada, and this decision of taxing is a very effective way to improve it’s air.

  • http://www.solidamerica.com gino

    Is time that every single world country start taking responsibility about fixing the globe atmosphere gases trouble, and if those steps in the process take a small contribution from citizens, it is right to do so. This are the news we are looking for. True good news of protecting our planet and improving the earth air quality. British Columbia is a beautiful city of Canada, and this decision of taxing is a very effective way to improve it’s air.

  • Dwindle

    Thanks to Canada, we now know why Universal Health Care is a horrible idea universally opposed by all but the wealthiest citizens. Now we get to learn why get rich quick schemes by corporations who own the government will destroy our economy. Thanks Canada.

  • Dwindle

    Thanks to Canada, we now know why Universal Health Care is a horrible idea universally opposed by all but the wealthiest citizens. Now we get to learn why get rich quick schemes by corporations who own the government will destroy our economy. Thanks Canada.

  • http://www.skepticsglobalwarming.com Skeptic

    I agree with Dwindle.

    Anything run by the government is going to be done inefficiently and with more expense. The global warming hoax is nothing but a way to increase the amount of government in your individual lives through lifestyle control and increased taxation. Sure, British Columbia says that this is a revenue-neutral tax, but I didn’t read any specifics in the article about what taxes would be cut to make the carbon tax revenue-neutral besides tax cuts and environmental rebates, which is too ambiguous for my liking. If the specifics of the proposed tax ($10 per metric ton) have already been formed, then I would expect for specifics to be given about the rebates and tax cuts. Unfortunately, this article doesn’t bother to report on the benefit to the individual.

    I’ve been covering the global warming hoax for quite some time. The government control that’s in place now is only the tip of the iceberg. California wants to regulate thermostats in private residences and Australia has proposed taxes on live births to offset the carbon that will be generated by the additional human on the planet. Want more examples? Visit Skeptics Global Warming.

  • http://www.skepticsglobalwarming.com Skeptic

    I agree with Dwindle.

    Anything run by the government is going to be done inefficiently and with more expense. The global warming hoax is nothing but a way to increase the amount of government in your individual lives through lifestyle control and increased taxation. Sure, British Columbia says that this is a revenue-neutral tax, but I didn’t read any specifics in the article about what taxes would be cut to make the carbon tax revenue-neutral besides tax cuts and environmental rebates, which is too ambiguous for my liking. If the specifics of the proposed tax ($10 per metric ton) have already been formed, then I would expect for specifics to be given about the rebates and tax cuts. Unfortunately, this article doesn’t bother to report on the benefit to the individual.

    I’ve been covering the global warming hoax for quite some time. The government control that’s in place now is only the tip of the iceberg. California wants to regulate thermostats in private residences and Australia has proposed taxes on live births to offset the carbon that will be generated by the additional human on the planet. Want more examples? Visit Skeptics Global Warming.

  • Canuck

    Go the beautiful city of British Columbia! I would be more impressed if a tax that generated new funds was put to R&D on reducing fossil fuels instead of tax cuts.

  • Canuck

    Go the beautiful city of British Columbia! I would be more impressed if a tax that generated new funds was put to R&D on reducing fossil fuels instead of tax cuts.

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  • Gerry

    Good day all

    First, British Columbia is a province, not a city. The carbon tax sucks and it has not even been implimented yet. 2nd, Universal Health Care. If i get sick, injuried, I can go into ANY health faucility (sp) in Canada for treatment and it NOT cost me nickle one. I pay a health insurance premium every month for myself and family. I have a brother that lives just north of Seattle and pays $300.00 per month for health insurance for a family of 4. I pay $75 for a family of 3. Not a bad ROI.

  • Gerry

    Good day all

    First, British Columbia is a province, not a city. The carbon tax sucks and it has not even been implimented yet. 2nd, Universal Health Care. If i get sick, injuried, I can go into ANY health faucility (sp) in Canada for treatment and it NOT cost me nickle one. I pay a health insurance premium every month for myself and family. I have a brother that lives just north of Seattle and pays $300.00 per month for health insurance for a family of 4. I pay $75 for a family of 3. Not a bad ROI.

  • Colleen

    I don’t know where these guys where coming from as they already know how hard it is for the average family to make ends meet because of the high cost impossed on many because of the steady influx of people moving in and out of the city. It looks like more are leaving and house prices are falling now thats pathetic for the number one city hosting the Olympics. The hight cost of energy is hurting many already here in Canada with the airlines letting many of their employees go. And the steady pace of jobs lost will continue and will even be harder for those living in BC facing the high cost of living because of the Olympics and now a tax to cause further hardship? It will cost them the election and that is the only good thing that will come out of it. If the Liberals solution to the hungry poor was to sell them the cities expired foods what are they going to do now that they can’t even afford to buy the cities garbage?

  • Colleen

    I don’t know where these guys where coming from as they already know how hard it is for the average family to make ends meet because of the high cost impossed on many because of the steady influx of people moving in and out of the city. It looks like more are leaving and house prices are falling now thats pathetic for the number one city hosting the Olympics. The hight cost of energy is hurting many already here in Canada with the airlines letting many of their employees go. And the steady pace of jobs lost will continue and will even be harder for those living in BC facing the high cost of living because of the Olympics and now a tax to cause further hardship? It will cost them the election and that is the only good thing that will come out of it. If the Liberals solution to the hungry poor was to sell them the cities expired foods what are they going to do now that they can’t even afford to buy the cities garbage?

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  • http://@wildblue.net MICHAEL J. SCHMITZ

    CARBONS ARE GOOD FOR PLANT LIFE, THEY MAKE PLANTS FLOURISH MORE AND PLANTS GIVE OFF OXYGEN FOR ALL TO BREATHE, UNLESS YOU LIVE UNDERWATER. YOUR TAXING YOUR CANADIAN PEOPLE SHOWS YOUR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE OF LIFE. WE’VE FOUND THE TRUE CAUSE OF GLOBAL WARMING AND ITS IN CREVICES IN THE EARTH ON DIFFERENT CONTINENTS, INFACT MY GLOBAL TEAMS AND I HAVE BEEN TOYING WITH THE ACTIVATED BEAMS THAT ARE WEAKENING THE OZONE. WE’VE FOUND THAT WE CAN SHUT DOWN THE ACTIVATED BEAM OFF AND ON. WE’VE DONE THIS FOR 28 DAYS OUT OF 60 DAYS. THE RESULTS ARE THE GLACIERS STOP MELTING AND START REFREZING ALONG WITH THE FRESHWATER ON THE SALTWATER AROUND THEM. OH WELL WHY EXPLAIN THE FACTS TO SOMEONE THAT STEELS FROM THEIR OWN DUE TO THE LACK OF KNOWLEDGE. MIKE

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