Provincial governments, not Ottawa, are best situated to evaluate their own situations and come up with plans to deal with climate change.
Last week, the federal government mandated nation-wide price on carbon emissions of $50 per tonne by 2022. Provinces will need to meet, or possibly exceed, this level and they will receive revenues from the tax.
The bombshell announcement came as the federal environment minister was meeting with her provincial counterparts in Montreal. Three provincial minister walked out in protest.
This is the federal government telling a provincial government how much to charge in taxes and it’s entirely the wrong approach.
Alberta’s carbon tax was set to max out at $30 per tonne. Created by Alberta’s NDP government, this level was determined with the provincial energy sector and economy in mind.
The tax is coming at a bad time in Alberta. According to Statistics Canada, Alberta’s unemployment rate was relatively unchanged in September at 8.5 per cent and Calgary’s jobless rate rose to 9.5 per cent.
Albertans will undoubtedly feel the impact of the carbon tax.
The move will drive up prices for goods and services across the economy.
Higher shipping and transportation costs will be factored into prices and municipal governments will pass on higher fuel costs in taxes and fees charged to taxpayers.
Climate change is a real and serious challenge we must deal with. A carbon tax is one tool of many that can be used to encourage people to move to less carbon-intensive technologies, but for some there is little alternative to fueling up.
The federal government should be working with provinces as a partner on climate change, it should not be coming at it from the top-down.