Exclusive: While the gridlocked U.S. political process freezes progress in the fight against global warming, Canada is considering a national tax on carbon emissions to give a boost to renewables, writes Jonathan Marshall.
By Jonathan Marshall
Canada can take credit for many great innovations, from insulin and peanut butter to Trivial Pursuit and basketball (Dr. James Naismith was Canadian). But one of its best may be a bold new nationwide policy of taxing carbon emissions to fight global warming.
The new plan, applauded by environmentalists, requires provinces and territories to begin imposing a tax of at least $10 (Canadian) a ton on carbon emissions by 2018, rising to C$50 by 2022. (In the United States, a tax of $20 per ton of emissions would raise the price of gasoline by about 20 cents per gallon.)
It’s a tried-and-true — if highly controversial — means of creating market incentives to shift consumer behavior and promote innovations that are needed to rescue humanity from the dire prospects of climate change.
More than a dozen leading Canadian CEOs — including a former president of Shell Canada — endorsed the proposal, calling it “the most economically effective way to reduce emissions and stimulate clean innovation – which will be critical to Canada’s success in a changing global economy.”
The United States has ducked the issue ever since anti-Obama Republicans and industry-funded lobbyists killed national legislation to develop a “cap-and-trade” system to limit unsustainable emissions from the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, transportation, industry and other sectors of the economy. House Republicans followed up in 2013 by voting to prohibit the government from putting any kind of price on carbon emissions.
Instead, President Obama has had to fall back on clumsy regulatory initiatives, still tangled up in the courts, to press states to reduce their carbon emissions by unspecified means.