Carbon pricing

Putting a price on carbon pollution in Canada is essential for a fair and effective climate plan.

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, Chief Operating Officer

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.

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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.

Renewable energy

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.

Photo: 10 10 via Flickr

Public transportation

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.

Photo: kwan fung via Unsplash

Low-carbon infrastructure

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.

Photo: Green Energy Futures via Flickr

Low-carbon lifestyles

Using carbon pricing funds for consumer incentive programs can help people switch to energy-saving options like better insulated homes or electric vehicles.

Photo: Oregon Department of Transportation via Flickr

Carbon pricing facts


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.

Working toward a fair and effective national price on carbon pollution

For more than a decade, the Foundation has been a leading voice in calling for a carbon price in Canada. Through research, policy work and public engagement, we built support for this foundational climate change policy.

The Foundation offered the B.C. government support to introduce North America’s first carbon tax in 2008. Our policy experts met with leaders at all levels of government and across industries to advocate for a national approach to carbon pricing.

The Foundation is an intervener in court cases in Saskatchewan and Ontario to support the federal government’s right to implement fair and effective climate policies that include carbon pricing.

In both cases, the courts of appeal agreed with us that the federal government has the power to take national action to tackle climate change. With Parliament and cities across the country declaring climate emergencies, including carbon pricing in the solutions toolkit is essential to meeting Paris Agreement climate commitments and avoiding the worst impacts of climate breakdown.

From the courts to city halls to the streets, the message is clear. Concerted action at a national level is a key part of Canada’s climate response.

Ian Bruce, Chief Operating Officer

Expert views

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