Court upholds legality of 2018 carbon tax law designed to reduce ghg emissions
The Canadian Supreme Court today took a big step in keeping Canada in its leadership position on the world stage in the battle against climate change.
The court, in a 6-3 decision, upheld the constitutional legality of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2018 tax on carbon emissions designed to hit emission reduction targets by the 2030 goal.
The decision re-affirms Canada's place as a global climate leader and the Environmental Defense Fund makes the broader case for Trudeau and Canada here.
In a carbon tax, emitters of greenhouse gas pollutants pay a fee, a tax, if they fail to hit emission reduction targets. So there’s an incentive to do the right thing. It’s more complicated than that but in general, a carbon tax is thought to be more effective than cap and trade programs that are now being questioned.
A couple of things worth noting on Canada’s carbon tax. First, it was enacted in 2018, three years ago and was probably a couple of years in the making. So 2016ish. That was the last year of the Barack Obama presidency.
Second, a carbon tax has been talked about in the U.S. for some time and has had bi-partisan support. It’s just never been able to get enough traction to get serious consideration in congress prior to the Donald Trump presidency. Then there were four years when even the mention of climate change let alone a carbon tax was off limits.
Now comes President Joe Biden with an aggressive climate agenda and a team of climate hawks on staff to develop and launch it. The reference to “aggressive” by the way, is by U.S. standards. We are more laggards than leaders on climate initiatives. Congress is split and politics are polarized so any climate action in this country that requires a law will be a tough sell. A carbon tax would require a law.
Back to Canada.
In Michigan, it’s become a sport to criticize Canada for its support to keep the Line 5 oil pipeline running. That’s the one Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered shut down in May. Michiganders look at the issue with blinders on as in, pipeline equals bad. Canada, bad. The Michigan League of Conservation Voters accuses Canadian officials of creating “false narratives” about Line 5. It serves their narrow purposes.
Whitmer and Michigan in early 2021, three years after Canada instituted its carbon tax, is in the earliest stages of formulating a carbon reduction initiative. The governor and her strident supporters incessantly refer to her climate action as “bold.”
In between dissing Canada over its Line 5 support, if Michiganders would exit their echo chambers and look for bold action on climate, they only need to look across the border to Canada.
Updated 3/26 to include EDF column on Trudeau and Canada.
“O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.” Canadian national anthem.
Chicago-based environmental journalist