Climate Change & Canada’s New Carbon Tax

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Although the reality of climate change is still a highly contested issue among many people, there is an almost universal consensus in the scientific community that climate change is real and that there is a 95% probability that the warming trend is due to human activities. According to NASA, there is no question that greenhouse gases are the cause of the warming trend. Evidence to support this can be found in ice core samples drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers, as well as in ancient tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This evidence reveals that warming is occurring at a rate roughly 10 times faster than the rate of average ice-age-recovery warming. To combat carbon emissions that contribute to this warming effect Canada will be rolling out a federal carbon tax to the remaining provinces that do not already have a carbon tax in effect. This step has been met with major opposition from Andrew Sheer’s conservative party and specifically from Ontario’s conservative premier, Doug Ford. Although they are clearly in opposition, conservatives have yet to present an alternate plan to address carbon emissions and help to deter Canada’s major polluters. Putting a tax on carbon isn’t a new idea. In fact, the carbon tax has already been in existence for many years in several Canadian provinces with positive results. In addition, Paul Romer and William Nordhaus won the 2018 Nobel Prize in economics for their carbon tax theories. There are many pros and cons when it comes to the tax, much like anything. In Canada, polluters will be paying $10/tonne in 2018, which will rise by $10/yr to $50/tonne in 2022. Funds raised by the carbon tax can be spent on mitigating effects of pollution and firms and consumers will be encouraged to look for alternatives to avoid the tax, like solar and wind. Some cons would include the fact that some businesses are claiming that the tax will inhibit investment and economic growth and some firms may move their business to countries without a carbon tax. Some worry that the carbon tax will encourage tax evasion and firms polluting in secret to avoid the tax. It may also be difficult to measure the external cost and ensure that companies are being taxed the appropriate amount. Finally, there is the administrative cost associated with measuring pollution and collecting the tax. Online, it seems that Canadians are sharply divided on whether or not the carbon tax will be a positive thing, even though they have been assured that in many cases they will receive rebates amounting in more than the amount they pay out. Some argue that Canada’s carbon emissions are so small that imposing a carbon tax won’t have any impact on the global temperature. Others argue that the emissions that are being taxed aren’t even the main source of warming temps and therefore the tax is pointless. In these times, when even 1 decimal point of warming makes a difference in our global outcomes, I think it is important for someone to make the first step in the right direction. If Canada can be a model for the rest of the world by adding the carbon tax, reducing emissions, and finding new energy sources, then perhaps soon some of the major polluters, like India and China will take notice and follow our lead. In the long run, I really don’t think that a carbon tax is going to hurt anybody, especially since our government is assuring us that we will receive a generous rebate. In Canada, if you pollute, you’re going to have to pay. People will adjust and the world will go on like it did before. Perhaps we will be able to breathe a little easier.

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Allisonxo is a she/her identifying feminist from Toronto, Canada who is a lifelong crafter and lover of vegan food and thrifting.

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