Jack Mintz, who is apparently one of Canada’s leading economists, came out in support of a carbon tax today. Specifically, he suggested that federal taxes on gasoline be expanded to include the taxation of other carbon-generating fuels. This sort of upstream tax on fuels can complement a cap-and-trade regulatory scheme for large emitters by covering sectors of the economy too small to be efficiently addressed through the latter approach. Mintz does not have a reputation as a green champion, making his endorsement all the more suggestive of a general trend towards accepting carbon taxes as one good approach for addressing the massive problem of climate change.
Whereas the carbon tax recently created in British Columbia begins with prices of $10 a tonne, eventually rising to $30, Mintz proposes a federal tax of about $42 a tonne. One of the major issues raised concerns inter-provincial transfers from high emission provinces like Alberta and Ontario to lower emitting provinces like Quebec. That being said, there are many ways in which carbon taxes can be designed. They can be set up so as to not increase the overall tax burden, on account of taxes being reduced elsewhere. They can also be designed so that revenues collected in one province must also be recycled or invested there.
With luck, people will start to realize the opportunities inherent in replacing conventional taxes with carbon taxes. Doing so will offer a strong financial incentive to invest in greater efficiency, cleaner fuels, and more sustainable practices generally.