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Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is stepping up the pressure on the federal Liberals by calling on the government to scrap a planned carbon price hike scheduled for April 1.

Since the carbon price was put in place in 2019, the tax on each tonne of carbon pollution has increased every year. It started at $20 per tonne and if the planned trajectory holds, it will climb to $170 per tonne by 2030.

The purpose of the policy is to make planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions steadily more expensive to incentivize investments in clean alternatives. That’s why on April 1, the start of the next fiscal year, the carbon price will increase by $15 to $80 per tonne.

Against this backdrop, the Conservatives launched a campaign to “spike the hike,” which Poilievre said is a precursor to a future Conservative government “axing the tax.”

In the House of Commons on Tuesday, while speaking to a motion calling on government to cancel the increase, Poilievre pointed to the high cost of food and housing, as well as economy-wide inflation, as evidence the public can’t stomach a higher carbon price.

“It is in this miserable environment that the NDP-Liberal prime minister proposes yet another cruel tax hike,” Poilievre said. “He plans to do it on April Fools' Day. It is an April Fools' Day tax hike.”

However, research has made clear the carbon price is responsible for a tiny fraction of those higher costs.

As reported by CBC News, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem told the Calgary Chamber of Commerce the carbon tax is responsible for just 0.15 per cent of inflation (representing about 1/20th of overall price increases). Writing in Policy Options, University of Calgary professors Trevor Tombe and Jennifer Winter crunched inflation numbers and concluded that “carbon pricing is definitively not to blame for affordability challenges.”

In fact, inflation in Canada is significantly driven by “a global surge in energy prices,” the professors write. That spike in energy prices coincides with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which sent energy markets into a tizzy.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is ramping up pressure on the carbon price as Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault accuses him of lying to Canadians. It's a preview of how politics will play out this year.

Speaking to reporters, Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault was on the attack, accusing Poilievre of lying to Canadians about the carbon price.

“Since 2019, eight out of 10 Canadians — low-income to middle-income Canadians — get more money back than they're paying for carbon pricing. That is a reality. That is a fact,” Guilbeault said. “And as carbon pricing goes up, so does the carbon rebate.

“The other thing you'll never hear Pierre Poilievre talk about is the impacts of climate change and how much it's impacting Canadians,” he said. “We're talking about our fish stocks disappearing … we're talking about the province of Alberta having to ration water for residents, for businesses, for the agricultural sector.”

Guilbeault said the carbon price is expected to account for approximately a third of the government’s emission reductions by 2030. He also emphasized there is no pausing climate change’s impacts and so it doesn’t make sense to pause the carbon price increase or the carbon price rebates, which is what a majority of premiers are demanding. He said the average costs from climate change in Canada have grown from $200 million about a decade ago to $2 billion per year. Moreover, the cost of an overheating planet will continue to rise as forest fires, flooding and other impacts ravage the country.

According to a 2022 study from the Canadian Climate Institute, estimates show that by 2025, Canada will “experience $25 billion in losses” compared to economic forecasts if climate change wasn’t a factor. Those costs will quickly grow to between $78 billion and $101 billion by mid-century.

Queen’s University’s Institute for Sustainable Finance put it even more starkly, warning that if the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting global warming to 2 C is breached, Canada will be staring down the barrel at more than $2.7 trillion in losses by the end of the century.

Poilievre’s anti-carbon tax position has become the Opposition leader’s rallying cry, marking a significant departure from previous leader Erin O’Toole, whose 2021 platform included a carbon tax.

As Poilievre continues to ramp up his attacks, he is signalling his intent to make the next federal election a referendum on the carbon price, routinely calling it the “carbon tax election.”

At the same time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has rebranded the policy in an attempt to more closely link the tax people pay with the rebates they receive by changing its name from the “Climate Action Incentive Payment” to the “Canada Carbon Rebate.”

As previously reported by Canada’s National Observer, the public’s understanding of the carbon price is the main determinant of support. Eighty per cent of households get more money back through rebates than they pay with a carbon price. Of those who say they receive more than they pay, support for the carbon price reaches 79 per cent. Among those who believe they spend more than they get back, the results are flipped: 82 per cent oppose the tax.

Members of Parliament are expected to vote on the Conservative motion on Wednesday.

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I don't buy much gas. I get much more back than I pay. Free money for me.

"Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem told the Calgary Chamber of Commerce the carbon tax is responsible for just 0.15 per cent of inflation (representing about 1/20th of overall price increases)."

OK, on one hand I agree that the carbon tax has certainly had very little to do with inflation, and to the extent that it has, it has replaced the money anyway so that portion of inflation doesn't matter. So for instance, if something costs $100, and then you put a $1 tax on it, and so I pay $101, that's 1% inflation. If you then give me back the $1, that's 1% inflation that doesn't matter to me because I have the income to make up for it. It's a wash. The only thing that makes the carbon tax make any difference to anything is the way it applies to some things more than others, hopefully pushing consumers towards buying things with less CO2 production involved.

On the other hand, now I REALLY don't trust the math of the Bank of Canada. Since when is 0.15% equal to 1/20th? It's less than 1/600th! 1/20th would be 5%. Unless that in-brackets part was added by the article for clarification, in which case it is an error.

Article: "As reported by CBC News, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem told the Calgary Chamber of Commerce the carbon tax is responsible for just 0.15 per cent of inflation (representing about 1/20th of overall price increases)."

Check out the CBC article (linked in above article):
"There's now a Bank of Canada number for carbon tax's impact on inflation. It's small" (CBC, Sep 08, 2023)
"… Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem reiterated this on a visit to Calgary on Thursday.
"He brought further clarity to the highly charged political discourse by putting a number on it.
"That number: 0.15 percentage points of the inflation increase can be attributed to the carbon tax.
"Pierre Poilievre's Conservatives have made much sport of arguing the Trudeau Liberals' tool to fight climate change has severely affected the affordability of fuel, groceries and other goods. While the Opposition party has never put a number on it, the figure has never appeared to be as rhetorically small as Macklem put it.
"In questions following a luncheon address to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, the central bank head said his team's inflation-watching takes into consideration the Trudeau government decision to annually hike its price on carbon by $15 per tonne.
"'So each year it's 0.15 (per cent), but that's a relatively small effect on year-over-year inflation,' Macklem told reporters.
"Consider that impact this way: with year-over-year inflation lately hovering around three per cent, this means the carbon tax causes one-twentieth of price increases. When inflation peaked at just above eight per cent last year, the carbon tax would have been responsible for one-54th of it.
"There's a big qualifier to this arithmetic. Macklem's arithmetic only covers the direct impact of the carbon tax, meaning how it juices the price of gasoline, natural gas and other fossil fuels.
"'It does not include second-round effects,' he clarified."

The text above could be clearer. The carbon levy is responsible for annual inflation of 0.15%. An absolute value.
Not 0.15% OF annual inflation.

Agreed, that is how I read it. Just a wee bit of the inflation. And what seems to be main driver of inflation now is fossil fuels mainly gasoline