MEDIA RELEASE: BC’s Lacklustre Carbon Pricing Ambition Opens Door for a National Carbon Tax

BC’s Lacklustre Carbon Pricing Ambition Opens Door for a National Carbon Tax

Media Release: Wednesday, August 24, 2016,
Contact: Cathy Orlando, 705-929-4043

Sudbury, ON: In October 2015, one of the cornerstone recommendations of British Columbia’s (BC) Climate Leadership Team was that BC increase their celebrated carbon tax which has been frozen at $30 per tonne since 2012 under BC Premier Christy Clark.

Thus, for many it was disconcerting when Premier Clark announced on Friday, August 19, 2016, that the BC carbon tax would remain frozen. Frankly, the climate crisis is a lot more urgent than we are discussing publicly in Canada. The hard facts are BC’s current plans and Canada’s targets for cutting carbon emissions are inadequate, July 2016 was the hottest month ever globally, one third of the Great Barrier Reef died this year and the Arctic ice is melting faster than anyone thought possible.

On Friday, Clark told a news conference, “I have to balance the need to make sure that our carbon tax remains world leading with the obligation to ensure that family affordability is at the forefront of our minds as well as protecting our economy and job creation”. Clark called on other provinces to match BC’s carbon tax levy.

Premier Clark has got a point. Absent from the BC Climate Leadership Team’s  recommendations for the BC carbon tax was leveling the playing field for BC businesses internationally using border tax adjustments under the World Trade Organization (WTO) or provisions to protect the environment under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Why? Because only national policies can be negotiated under WTO and NAFTA.

BC’s lacklustre carbon pricing policy illustrates why Canada needs a national carbon tax and this was clearly communicated in the opinion piece by BC Environment Minister, Mary Polak, on Sunday: “We know we can achieve more working together with Canada’s provinces, territories and the federal government, while respecting each other’s jurisdictions. We support the adoption of BC’s price on carbon as a national benchmark, and increasing that price together in an effective and affordable way, once others catch up.”

On July 15, 2016, the federal Minister for Environment and Climate Change announced Canada will have a national price of carbon by the end of the year. The federal cabinet was in Sudbury this weekend and they were told year 2 will be a difficult year. It should be a no-brainer for pricing carbon federally though. Nationally, Canada’s lack of federal climate policies from 2008 to 2015 resulted in Canada losing 41% of the global share in clean tech sales. The data is clear from the BC Carbon Tax experience, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission and Regional Economic Modeling Inc: pricing carbon, if well designed, will create a more sustainable economy. As well, many organizations, media pundits, businesses and civil society groups in Canada support a national price on carbon.

At the Paris Climate talks PM Trudeau tweeted “To fight climate change, we are all in this together #Cop21.” Canada, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories became founding partners of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition at the climate talks in Paris and committed to effective carbon pricing policies to meaningful lower emissions guided by the “FASTER” principles.

Decarbonizing the Canadian economy to 100% renewable energy by 2050 is 100% possible and it will save us money.  The politicians who can lead Canada to the clean energy economy of tomorrow will make their mark on history and they will need our help.

Cathy Orlando, national director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada states:  “Enough with the climate brinkmanship. BC showed the world that pricing carbon transparently works economically and politically. Opportunity is knocking. It’s time Canada carved out our slice of the global multi-trillion-dollar clean tech industry with a transparent, incrementally rising, national and revenue neutral price on carbon.”


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.