In 2008, when B.C. introduced its carbon tax, it was widely hailed as a model of environmental and economic design.
Applied to the purchase or use of fossil fuels within the province, the tax rates were initially set at $10 per tonne of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions, rising to $25 last July, and $30 per tonne this year.
Motorists will be paying 6.67 cents of carbon tax per litre this summer.
The province committed that the initiative would be revenue neutral, with the money generated returned to taxpayers and businesses by way of tax deductions.
Now almost four years old, B.C.’s carbon tax is still the centre of debate.
Has it been effective in its objective of reducing the use of fossil fuels? Stats Canada reports the consumption of gasoline in the province held relatively steady since 2008 and increased in 2010.
In the global scheme of things, the impact of B.C.’s carbon tax on the release of greenhouse gases since its inception can be considered miniscule.
But it has led to some positive changes in awareness and attitudes, with examples found in industry and civic infrastructure where energy-efficient measures and alternatives to fossil fuels were implemented.
In fact, while opponents call for the demise of the carbon tax, calling it ineffective and unfair, proponents maintain it must continue to be ramped up to change bad energy habits.
At present, the global consumption rate of oil is approximately 85 million barrels per day, and current trending sees that rising over 100 million barrels per day by 2020. If alternative energy sources are not vigorously pursued now, the world is headed for a worsening crisis.
That makes for a strong argument that instead of carbon taxes being neutral, they should instead be funnelled directly into energy-wise initiatives, such as transit and other transportation alternatives.