Carbon Taxation

This article is part of our “blog series” — written by youth, for youth, by members of our very own VSBSC executive team. We hope you enjoy reading these as much as we did writing them and stay tuned for future posts!

By Leah McKinney

In recent decades the issue of climate change has become increasingly politicized. While some political parties plan to invest in a sustainable economy, others fear the short-term economic losses that could be a result of restrictions on non-renewable resources such as fossil fuel. During the last Canadian election this debate centered on carbon taxation. This is a type of taxation levied on carbon dioxide emissions, which aims to deter companies in the travel and energy sector from emitting greenhouse gasses while making green energy more affordable. 

A carbon tax puts a monetary price on the emissions which put the environment at risk, but is it enough? British Columbia was one of the first provinces to put in place a tax on carbon. This applies to fossil fuels used for transportation, home heating and electricity. According to the World Bank carbon taxation in BC has improved fuel efficiency without harming the province’s economy. Additionally, a 2013 report by Sustainable Prosperity, stated that fossil fuel consumption was reduced by 17.4% per capita during the time the tax was in place. These positive results have led many to believe that the carbon tax is the key to reducing emissions nation-wide and weaning off of fossil fuels altogether. However, there are concerns about the implementation of this strategy. 

The primary concern of objectors to the carbon tax is the timeline of the strategy. The last century has already seen 1℃ of global warming which has had devastating impacts such as severe weather, rising sea levels, and destructive wildfires. According to the World Meteorological Association, this is set to increase to as high as 5℃ of global warming by the end of the 21st century. The UN has warned that in order to keep this value down to 1.5℃ immediate and unprecedented action must be taken. Critics of the carbon tax say that incentivizing clean energy is not enough, as it will not reduce fossil fuel emissions to the extent necessary. They believe that for Canadian leaders to truly commit to the health and wellness of future generations they must start directly investing in clean energy sources such as geothermal, wind, and solar energy. 

Currently, Canada is the sixth-largest producer of oil and the fifth largest producer of natural gas. These are not rankings to be proud of. Canada is contributing to an issue that damages the environment and therefore poses an existential threat to all living things. A carbon tax may be a step in the right direction but it does fix the damage already done nor safeguard the lives of future generations.