The (right-of-centre) government of the Canadian province of British Columbia broke ground Tuesday, becoming the second Canadian jurisdiction to implement a carbon tax to address climate change.
The tax, which will eventually apply to all fossil fuels, starts small – amounting to 2.4 cents per litre of gasoline (around 0.6 cents per US gallon) in its first year – but triple in four years and will bring in a total of $1.8 billion Canadian over that time, according to Finance Minister Carole Taylor. It is also designed to be revenue neutral, and the government has promised to account for the offset so people will be able to see where exactly the increased revenue is being returned to taxpayers.
Remarkably, the left-leaning New Democratic Party Opposition (NDP), once closely tied to the environmental movement across Canada, found a way to attack this, probably the most decisive climate change policy initiative yet introduced in North America.
So, despite the hysterical lefty bashing by self-interested think tanks, and despite the self-righteous rhetoric of centre-left politicians and supporters: in Canada, as in the United States, a left coast right-winger is leading the way – making the kind of foundational policy shift that could finally begin to turn the fossil fuel supertanker around. BC Premier Gordon Campbell is also following in the footsteps of Quebec Premier (and former federal Conservative) Jean Charest, whose government introduced a smaller carbon tax last summer.
Let’s hope this sanity is contagious.