BLOG: British Columbia will increase its carbon tax

British Columbia will increase its carbon tax

By Cathy Orlando

As of April 1, 2018, the province of British Columbia (BC) will be back on track toward attaining its climate targets. Currently, at $30 per tonne, BC’s carbon tax will increase at a rate of $5 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2e) annually until rates are equal to $50 per tonne of CO2e on April 1, 2021.

Here in Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada, we welcome the news that the BC carbon tax is set to increase. BC enacted a revenue-neutral carbon tax in 2008. It has been praised as “the most significant carbon tax in the Western hemisphere.” That carbon tax has been frozen at $30 a tonne since 2012, when BC Premier Christy Clark took over, but it will begin rising again next year.

Perks of the carbon price

Currently, the global tech market is worth over $1 trillion (CAD) and is on the cusp of a multi-trillion dollar clean tech revolution. The predictability of the BC carbon tax hike is key to de-risking clean tech adoption. De-risking is exactly what it sounds like: as fossil fuels become steadily more expensive, clean tech will become a predictably less risky investment. That will encourage more clean tech adoption and continue to drive down emissions. Also, the Climate Action Tax Credit will ensure that low and middle-income families will also benefit from the transition to a clean energy economy.

Currently, 86% of Canada’s population is already covered by a carbon price, and next year that number will rise to 100%, thanks to a requirement that all provinces and territories must have a carbon floor price of at least $10 per tonne of CO2e by 2018. That means BC is already in compliance, and these additional increases show that they’re going above and beyond.

Revenue neutrality

To allay confusion, it must be noted that Canada’s national carbon pricing policy will be revenue neutral for the national government. All revenues generated will remain in that province or territory. Territorial and provincial levels of government can determine what can be done with the revenues from carbon taxes.

Within the province of British Columbia, the current NDP government will eliminate the requirement for the carbon tax to be revenue neutral. Revenue generated from the changes to the carbon tax may be used to help residents and families pay for green initiatives, such as home retrofits or green transportation.

With this week’s announcement, BC is setting itself up to be a good provincial partner, and ready to capture the benefits of the global transition to clean growth, while protecting the poor and middle class.



Cathy Orlando has put her words to work for the climate by getting letters and opinion pieces published in newspapers in every province in Canada. When she’s not safeguarding the climate alongside the best volunteers on the planet, you can probably find her stargazing, dancing, reading books not about climate change, hanging out with her husband Sanjiv, and mothering her three cherished daughters.