What is carbon pricing?
Restricting the pollution that causes climate change makes sense. The more someone pollutes, the more they ought to pay. A carbon price makes polluting more expensive and solutions like clean energy and electric vehicles more affordable.
Economists believe that carbon pricing is the most effective way to reduce the carbon pollution that is changing our climate. Seventy national and subnational governments have introduced a price on carbon pollution.
Fossil fuels pollute the air we breathe, contaminate the water we drink and unbalance the climate we depend on. We need a price on carbon pollution to protect our health and well-being.
Ian Bruce, Deputy Executive Director
Accelerating the transition to a carbon-free future
Solutions to climate change are already at our disposal. Renewable energy, electric vehicles and fast, reliable public transportation can lead the way to a carbon-free future. Carbon pricing creates an incentive across the economy to shift to lower-carbon activities and behaviour.
Pricing carbon is fair. The organizations and people that create the most carbon pollution pay for the damage of their pollution. Governments can channel funds raised from pricing carbon pollution to provide better options for people to reduce their carbon footprints.
We need a fair response to climate change because all people living in Canada feel its impact. We need an effective response to climate change because we all benefit from least-cost solutions. We need to act urgently because extreme events from a rapidly changing climate are harmful to human health.
How does pricing carbon pollution build more sustainable communities?
Putting a price on carbon pollution through a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system helps speed the transition to cleaner, better energy solutions. We have low-carbon alternatives to our largest emissions sources that are improving by the day.
Wind, solar and other low-impact ways to generate electricity reduce the need for fossil fuels and offer cleaner and less expensive solutions than nuclear power and large hydro projects. Investing in small-scale, community-owned renewable energy projects stimulates local economies and creates energy independence.
Fast, reliable public transportation networks make communities more livable. They get cars off the road, reduce congestion, relieve commuting stress and offer countless health benefits. Fewer cars on the road makes it easier to move goods and benefits local economies.
Carbon pricing can make it easier to expand active transportation choices like bike lanes and walking paths and build electric vehicle charging stations. You save time and money and improve your health.
Using carbon pricing funds for consumer incentive programs can help people switch to energy-saving options like better insulated homes or electric vehicles.
Carbon pricing decreases emissions
Fact: Since it was introduced in 2008, B.C.’s carbon tax decreased carbon emissions, according to research. The same holds true in other jurisdictions that price carbon emissions.
Rebates benefit individuals and families
Fact: Research shows that people in B.C. — where the provincial government sends out rebates from its carbon tax — pay less tax than they did before the carbon price was implemented.
Renewable energy is increasingly affordable
Fact: The price of renewable energy is now equal to or cheaper than coal power. Fossil fuels only appear to be affordable due to government subsidies ($3B a year in Canada) and the absence of a price on carbon emissions.
Pricing pollution across Canada
A win at the Supreme Court
The David Suzuki Foundation has been advocating for carbon pricing as a climate solution since 1998, in reports, advocacy and the courts.
Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta took the federal government to court to challenge the constitutionality of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. Represented by Ecojustice lawyers and acting as an intervener, we sided with the federal government’s authority to put in place a national minimum price on carbon pollution. We were the first organization to argue in court that the climate emergency is an issue of national concern and warrants a national emergency response.
In March 2021, the Supreme Court agreed that climate change was a matter of national concern that justified Parliament’s authority to enact laws under the Constitution’s “peace, order and good government” clause.
Judges found that climate change poses a grave threat to humanity’s future. They validated federal law aimed at limiting the harms from one province on another. The court noted that a lack of co-operation among provinces could expose other provinces to “grave harm.”
The court found that the act recognizes jurisdiction for a pricing mechanism, not greenhouse gas emissions more broadly. Provinces can still address climate change with their own laws and regulations.
What does this decision mean for climate action?
The decision was specifically about carbon pricing, but it signals that the federal government has the authority to enact national climate and clean energy regulations. By confirming that the federal government has the legal authority to take co-ordinated, national action and impose a minimum carbon price, the ruling means Canada can ensure that no province creates a stumbling block to progress being made in other parts of the country. It’s an essential part of responding to the climate emergency.
Climate change is “a threat of the highest order to the country, and indeed the world. The undisputed existence of a threat to the future of humanity cannot be ignored.… A provincial failure to act directly threatens Canada as a whole.”
Supreme Court of Canada
Atlantic Loop’s green-recovery potential lies with collaboration, renewable energy
Consensus is growing: Canada and the world must move quickly and decidedly to decarbonize electricity systems and entire economies in the coming years.
Senior Climate Policy Advisor
B.C.’s low carbon fuel standard – surprisingly big climate winner
The B.C. government has dragged its feet on ramping up the target and may miss the carbon emission reductions projected in its climate plan. By committing to an ambitious target, B.C. can create a stable ‘market signal’ that will attract capital-intensive investments in new production capacity. B.C. can’t afford to miss out on one of the big—and most effective—tools to clean up its act.
Senior Climate Policy Advisor
Health organization to support carbon pricing in court
The Canadian Public Health Association is intervening in a court case that asks whether the federal government has the right to price carbon pollution in Ontario. Climate change, they argue, is one of the biggest health challenges of the 21st century.
Climate Change and Transportation Policy Analyst
Erroneous economics undermine Saskatchewan’s court fight against pricing pollution
The Saskatchewan government has released faulty claims that the federal carbon-pricing system would reduce the province’s GDP and shrink the economy. Realistically, the provincial economy would adapt to a price on carbon pollution without major economic dislocation.
Senior Climate Policy Advisor
Climate emergency needs national response
A legal battle is arriving in Saskatchewan's provincial courts over whether the federal government has the jurisdiction to implement an effective and fair national climate plan that prices carbon pollution. Canada’s ability to act to address climate change is necessary and urgent.
Former Chief Executive Officer