Carbon pricing in Canada is under attack. Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre has made his “axe the tax” rhetoric the centrepiece of his campaign to return the Conservatives to power. In the provinces, four Conservative premiers, including Danielle Smith of Alberta, Saskatchewan's Scott Moe, Nova Scotia's Tim Houston and Blaine Higgs from New Brunswick, staunchly oppose the consumer carbon price. In April, protests snarled traffic on the Trans-Canada.

This concerted demonization of carbon pricing is having an effect. Even prominent NDP politicians are edging away from it.

Never mind the disinformation behind these attacks. The inflation that currently burdens us results chiefly from increases in commodity prices, supply chain kinks and increased demand. But the consumer carbon tax, according to the Bank of Canada, barely drives inflation at all, once you take the rebate into account. With year-over-year inflation at around three per cent, the carbon price accounts for just a small fraction of our recent price increases. Even if you consider both direct and indirect costs, the carbon price only accounts for around 0.20 per cent of the overall inflationary burden.

Notwithstanding its use as an electoral cudgel, carbon pricing has exceptional merits. It’s the best tool we have to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) — and there’s plenty of evidence to back that assertion.

The European Union’s Emission Trading System (ETS) — a cap-and-trade system — has achieved reductions of 47 per cent below 2005 levels, with a high probability of achieving the EU’s 2030 target of -62 per cent.

According to Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada, which I serve as a volunteer, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds carbon pricing “more cost-effective than regulations or subsidies at reducing emissions.” It also notes that returning the revenue to taxpayers — that’s the dividend part of our fee-and-dividend system — blunts the adverse impact of the carbon price on low-income groups.

Does carbon pricing actually reduce fuel use? Yes, absolutely. An independent study from the Pembina Institute found that per capita fossil fuel use declined by 16.1 per cent in B.C. from 2008 through 2013, while it increased by over three per cent in the rest of Canada. During this same period, B.C.’s per capita GDP grew faster than the rest of Canada’s: 1.75 per cent versus 1.28 per cent.

Need more persuasion? Thousands of professional economists, including 28 Nobel laureates and over 400 Canadian economists, recognize the efficacy of carbon pricing in driving emissions reductions.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada (CCL) was instrumental in bringing the fee-and-dividend policy into the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GGPPA) of 2018. Beginning in 2010, CCL lobbied steadily for it, carefully marshalling the evidence and meeting repeatedly with parliamentarians. It was slow, painstaking work. But it paid off.

Simply put, carbon fee and dividend is the best policy we’ve found so far for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, writes Andy Kubrin. #cdnpoli

For all the disinformation being flung at carbon pricing, we still vigorously support this policy. The carbon fee is returned to households on a per capita basis in the province where it was collected. According to the Parliamentary Budget Office, 80 per cent of us receive more in dividends than we pay in fees. Here in Alberta, the dividend now comes to $1,800 per year for a family of four. That’s not small change.

Simply put, carbon fee and dividend is the best policy we’ve found so far for cutting GHG emissions. Want to give subsidies a shot? OK, but they’re more expensive — so much more that the International Monetary Fund warns that countries risk a debt crisis if they rely solely on green subsidies for emissions reduction.

At CCL, I guess you could say that carbon pricing is our jam — but not our only one. Besides carbon pricing, we also support climate-aligned finance, carbon border adjustment mechanisms, the emissions cap, clean electricity regulations and fighting climate disinformation in advertising.

It’s wonky stuff, but essential for combatting the crisis.

We work by seizing the five levers of political will — lobbying, media relations, grassroots organizing, grasstops organizing and chapter development. At the risk of sounding immodest, I’ll add that my CCL Canada peers are among the tightest, most effective activists I’ve ever known. I’m proud to work with them.

That’s why I’ll be in Ottawa from June 2 to 4 for CCL’s Dream No Small Dreams conference and lobby event. Catherine McKenna, the former environment and climate change minister, will be there. So will economists Chris Ragan and David Robinson. So will Indigenous artist Will Morin, who will lead us in creating a giant dreamcatcher. That should be the right size for us. We’re not dreaming any small dreams.

If you read CNO, you know that nothing is more urgent than climate action. So meet us in Ottawa. Go to our Dream No Small Dreams page and click the blue “register” button by May 28.

It’s not too late for us to save ourselves. It’s not too late for you to join forces with the best climate advocates money can’t buy.

Join Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada and meet us in Ottawa.

Andy Kubrin is a writer and climate activist based in Calgary. He has worked with Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada since 2018. He also blogs at Alberta Beyond Fossil Fuels.

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"This concerted demonization of carbon pricing is having an effect. Even prominent NDP politicians are edging away from it."

If carbon pricing fails in Canada, it will not be because "conservative" politicians attacked it. It will be because "progressive" politicians failed to defend it.

Right-wing politicians can attack carbon pricing — ironically, a free-market mechanism — and carbon pricing still stands. When the conservatives go on the attack, carbon pricing can still stand as long as progressive politicians defend it.
But when "progressive" politicians join in, that spells its defeat. It is when centre-left politicians fail to defend it that support collapses.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
On climate, the federal Liberals and provincial NDP do far worse than nothing. They build pipelines, greenlight LNG projects, approve offshore oil projects — and insist we need to sell fossil fuels in order to transition away from fossil fuels. Worse, they abandon science and lead their followers over to the Dark Side. Putting a progressive stamp on petro-politics and implicit climate change denial.
When it comes to "climate villainy", right-wing politicians and climate change deniers are all sound and fury. When centre-left leaders join in, that's when the fire takes hold and spreads.

Enjoy your wildfires, folks.

Good article. I didn't know about the CCL and how instrumental they were in establishing the current carbon pricing. Lobbying seems to be effective and the standard approach in the political context.
Trudeau and the Liberals seem to be actively defending the carbon pricing policy as a stark contrast to Poilievre and his con cohort with their overt and stupid denialism, but this week while announcing something at a school in New Brunswick, he also openly criticized Blaine Higgs for his typical conservative stances on both that and the "parental rights" BS, another feature of their suite of stupidity.
But in that same context he went on to bring up Roe v. Wade, reminding everyone how draconian but also seminal THAT idea is to this current nutbar right wing "movement," along with the stinking albatross of religiosity behind it. Both of these politically toxic ideas have been kept in abeyance for a reason, but Trudeau pointed out how it's only a matter of time until that abomination of women's human rights that's already happened in the U.S. arrives HERE if conservatives get enough power. He can talk because women's rights are a qualification for any Liberal candidate. No one ever touches religion yet, and probably never will, but the casual relegation of the rights of half of humanity DOES trump everything else really, and is the enduring Achilles heel of conservatives right now.
Trudeau also brought up in passing the perfect rebuttal to PP's signature "axe the tax" by pointing out the fact that the cons preference will always be to "AXE THE FACTS."

Agreed. Climate assault is only one part of the rhetorical Dark Side espoused by Cro Magnon social conservatives. They are unmatched in full immersion regression by any other mindset or political party.