The carbon tax works : British Columbia edition


Carbon taxWe have  seen in previous articles on how taxing carbon makes a lot of sense. Ireland and Australia have already implemented them with resounding successes. Both China and South Africa are planning to enact one by 2015.

Now the Economist and Grist published articles on a third example of a successful carbon tax implementation, and one pretty close to the United States as it is in British Columbia (Canada)

And it is pretty much astounding as overall emissions there fell by as much as ten percent between 2008 and 2011. Let’s hope it is continuing that trend.

As the Economist notes :

Now a study has found that the levy has led to a big drop in fossil-fuel consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions without hurting the economy. And, to the delight of BC’s citizens, it let the provincial government cut personal and corporate tax rates. Stewart Elgie, an economist at the University of Ottawa and lead author of the report, calls it a rare win-win.

The tax, which is levied on nearly all fossil fuels, was designed to help BC meet its self-imposed target of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 33% below 2007 levels by 2020. (Canada’s federal target, like America’s, is to cut them to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.)

Initially set at C$10 ($9.60) per tonne of carbon-dioxide equivalent, it rose each year until it reached C$30 per tonne in 2012. The tax covers 77% of BC’s greenhouse-gas emissions from residential, commercial and industrial sources. It accounts for seven cents of the C$1.46 Vancouverites pay for a litre of petrol.

As a way to curb emissions, the scheme has been a roaring success.

According to the report, before 2008 the average British Columbian used as much fuel as other Canadians did. By 2012 fuel consumption per person had dropped by 17.4% in BC, even as it rose by 1.5% in the rest of the country. The province now uses less fuel per head than any other.

Reading this and reading Grist’s article make you wonder why, oh why, aren’t we all implementing carbon taxes ? The Carbon Tax Center provides more data on this examples and others.

President Sarkozy wanted to enact a carbon tax here in France back to 2009.  Most unfortunately it wasn’t done.

Each example makes it even more clearer : taxing carbon just makes sense. I just wish the G20 would meet and talk about this in the next few years.

Implementing a sufficient G20-wide carbon tax between 2015 and 2020 – as well as other efforts that are part of my climate change to do list – would give us a fighting chance to avoid the worst of climate change. A bright prospect for both Nature and Mankind.

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