Photo: Something to celebrate on Canada Day: environmental success

If we single out gasoline consumption since 2008, British Columbians have reduced usage by 7.3 per cent more than the rest of Canada. (Credit: Making Progress on B.C.’s Climate Action Plan, B.C. Ministry of Environment)

By Ian Bruce, Manager, Science and Policy

As we prepare to mark our country's 145th birthday on Canada Day, July 1, those of us who live in B.C. can also celebrate a small but significant experiment to tackle climate change.

B.C.'s carbon tax, introduced in 2008, will increase on July 1 by $5 per tonne of carbon pollution (about one cent per litre of gasoline) to a total of $30 per tonne, increasing the incentive for everyone in the province — industry, households and businesses — to switch to cleaner energy technologies or adopt greener practices.

Sign up for our newsletter

And now, with the release of a report by Ottawa-based Sustainable Prosperity and a second one by the B.C. Climate Action Secretariat, British Columbians will have even more to celebrate: the environmental and economic benefits of this landmark policy.

Since the carbon tax was implemented in 2008, B.C.'s per capita use of petroleum fuels (subject to the carbon tax) has dropped by 15 per cent while sales in the rest of Canada have increased by 1.3 per cent.

B.C. had already been doing slightly better than the rest of the country at reducing fuel consumption per person from 2000 to 2008, before the carbon tax was in place, but this performance increased more than twofold after the carbon tax came into effect. This suggests the policy was an important contributor to B.C.'s success at decreasing fossil fuel use during the past four years.

If we single out gasoline consumption since 2008, British Columbians have reduced usage by 7.3 per cent more than the rest of Canada.

Findings from Sustainable Prosperity's report should silence critics' unsubstantiated claims that a carbon tax would destroy the economy because we'd be going it alone. In fact, growth in B.C.'s economic output (GDP) has outpaced the rest of Canada's since the carbon tax came into effect.

This finding is also supported by the experiences of a number of countries that have had carbon taxes in place for more than a decade. For example, Sweden, a jurisdiction with a similar size population and economy as B.C., has a carbon tax more than four times higher than B.C.'s for most sectors. Since Sweden's carbon tax was introduced in 1992, the country's economy has grown 44 per cent while greenhouse gas emissions have gone down by nearly 10 per cent. Last year, the World Economic Forum ranked Sweden third in the world on economic competitiveness.

On June 27, B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon announced that this summer the government will seek public input on the future of the carbon tax.

It's an important opportunity for British Columbians to keep and continue the B.C. carbon tax, to improve its effectiveness and fairness, and to build a better future for B.C.

The David Suzuki Foundation will work with British Columbians from all walks of life to ensure that B.C. shows real leadership on climate change.

June 29, 2012

Read more

Post a comment

1 Comment

May 07, 2013
1:09 AM

Yeah great. You know why there is a “decrease” in gas usage showing up in your charts, because there is a massive shift towards purchasing gasoline in the US.

The reason there is a decrease in Natural Gas and Coal demand in BC is because the carbon tax has simply pushed business out of BC. If you visit Annacis Island today, every second building has a “For Lease” sign on it. This carbon tax has simply killed business. Of course the data is going to be skewed towards lower usage.

How can you publish this? Where is the journalist integrity? Where is the bigger picture?

The David Suzuki Foundation does not necessarily endorse the comments or views posted within this forum. All contributors acknowledge DSF's right to remove product/service endorsements and refuse publication of comments deemed to be offensive or that contravene our operating principles as a charitable organization. Please note that all comments are pre-moderated. Privacy Policy »