On April 1, Canada’s carbon fee increased from $65 to $80 per tonne of pollution released into the atmosphere. It has been another golden opportunity for the “carbon tax” naysayers to ramp up their “axe the tax” rhetoric.

The rhetoric is effective. According to a recent Abacus Data poll, only 36 per cent of Canadians believe the federal carbon price is good policy. Notably, half of respondents in eligible jurisdictions report not knowing that they receive a quarterly rebate cheque.

I spent seven years lobbying the federal government to implement carbon pricing, specifically a rising fee on carbon with rebates to Canadians, and not as a paid lobbyist. I volunteer with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL). I am deeply alarmed by the climate crisis and believe the government is responsible for orchestrating the transition to a clean energy economy.

In 2018, I celebrated with my fellow CCL volunteers when Canada enacted the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, which modelled for the most part our preferred climate pricing model. We call it a price and not a tax because 80 per cent of Canadians covered by the federal system receive more money back than they spend.

For those of us who invested our time, effort and own dime travelling to Ottawa to accomplish what some would consider quixotic, the recent decline in public support for Canada’s key tool in tackling the climate crisis is distressing.

It’s true carbon pricing is not the only tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, however, it is a heavy lifter and can improve the effectiveness of complementary measures. Imagine paddling a canoe against the current or riding your bike against the wind. That’s climate action without carbon pricing. How can we seriously decarbonize when we struggle against relatively low carbon prices?

A rising fee on carbon incentivizes industries to develop clean energy innovations, and consumers to purchase them, helping to decarbonize and diversify our economy.

Online simulation models that test climate policy, such as MIT and Climate Interactive’s En-ROADS‌‌ and the Pembina Institute’s online climate policy simulator, clearly demonstrate the power of carbon pricing to help drive the mass changes needed to decarbonize.

To help shoulder the rising fuel costs in the transition to low-cost clean energy alternatives, households receive quarterly Canada Carbon Rebate cheques. These cheques make a high carbon price possible. The higher the price, the higher the rebate, thereby making it popular — if people are aware of it.

Imagine paddling a canoe against the current or riding your bike against the wind. That’s climate action without carbon pricing, writes @cherylmcnamara #CarbonPricing #ClimateChange #cdnpoli #CarbonPrice

Of those Canadians who know they receive more back from the rebate, four in five support Canada’s carbon pricing model, according to a recent Angus Reid poll.

On April 15, households on average can expect to receive $160 for an individual, with $80 for a spouse or common-law partner and $40 for each child under the age of 19 — depending on their province. Rural communities receive a supplement.

The rebate has a side benefit in helping people through the affordability crisis.

So why isn’t the government doing a better job selling it? In 2016, the Liberals restricted government communications in response to what they perceived as partisan advertising by the previous Harper administration, thereby undermining its ability to communicate its policies.

As such, the government has made itself vulnerable to attacks against a policy that should be humming quietly in the background. Its impact on the economy is benign, it’s helping decrease emissions and it’s not alone. We are among 73 countries, including China, that price carbon in some fashion.

Can we do better? Yes! Canada’s carbon price hardly touches the oilsands and other extraction projects, which are regulated under the lax Output-Based Pricing System. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise in this sector, which is why Canada is working on an oil and gas emissions cap.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. The climate crisis is fuelling deadly and costly wildfires and severe drought in many parts of our country.

While Canada’s carbon pricing model can be improved, it has a lot going for it — including being one of the few in the world that delivers rebate cheques. And it could soon be axed if the Opposition forms the next government.

To quote a Joni Mitchell song: “You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.”

Cheryl McNamara is a human and ecological rights activist and a playwright who serves as KAIROS Canada’s communications and advocacy co-ordinator.

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Abe Lincoln was credited with u can fool all the people some of the time and some people all the time, then there is gaslighting, social media and gullibility.
Unfortunately 36 % of Canadians are really gullible! Fact checking and accuracy no longer required. Just think how our democracy elects its leaders! Sad state

"How can we seriously decarbonize when we struggle against relatively low carbon prices?"

Excellent question.
Full-cost accounting — pricing in the environmental, climate, and health costs — is an essential tool for addressing all our environmental problems.

Fundamentally, environmental problems arise because producers and consumers are allowed to externalize environmental, climate, and health costs. Downloading them to the public purse, future generations, and the environment.
The tragedy of the commons. Every individual seeks to maximize his own benefit at the expense of the community. We stick someone else with the bill for the harm that we do. So environmental harm is free for us, and society, our grandchildren, and other species are forced to absorb the costs and damage.

This is called market failure, because the market fails to cost goods and services and natural capital accurately and efficiently.
So fossil-fuel producers and consumers use the sky as a free dump. The result? Smog, acid rain, and global warming.

The solution to market failure, obviously, is to internalize those costs. Until we price those costs back in, we are effectively subsidizing our own destruction.

"We call it a price and not a tax because 80 per cent of Canadians covered by the federal system receive more money back than they spend."

The federal government calls it a carbon levy and not a tax because the government does not keep a cent. 100% of revenues are returned to the province of origin.

Environment and Climate Change Canada observes the distinction between carbon levy and carbon tax:
"Pricing carbon pollution in Canada: how it will work
"Provinces can choose which type of system to implement: either (i) a direct pricing system (such as a carbon tax like British Columbia's or a carbon levy combined with a performance-based emissions system like Alberta), or (ii) a cap-and-trade system (e.g., Ontario and Quebec)."

As far as I can tell, B.C. seems to have a hybrid carbon tax/levy scheme — the government rebates a fraction of the fuel charges to lower-income households and the rest flows into general revenues.
Previously, I understood that provincial income taxes are reduced in respect of carbon revenues — to what extent I do not know. Is B.C.'s income-based Climate Action Tax Credit a separate rebate program?

A Vancouver Sun article: "The New Democrats plan to give back $3.5 billion in climate action tax credits to low and middle-income folks, and spend the rest as they see fit."
"Vaughn Palmer: B.C. premier goes after Poilievre on carbon tax, affordability"

I am not a B.C. resident, so perhaps someone can fill me in.