The problem with carbon taxes

On April 1, the federal government imposed carbon taxes on home heating and other fuels in provinces that don’t have provincial carbon reduction programs – New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The theory is that by increasing the cost of fossil fuels, people and businesses will switch to alternate technologies to reduce carbon emissions. The problem is, quite simply, that there are no easy solutions that the average individual or business can adopt to reduce their carbon footprint.

People still need to get to work; homes and buildings still need to be heated. While switching to another form of heating or trading in your “gas guzzler” for a more efficient vehicle may be great in theory, for the average Canadian struggling from payday to payday it’s not realistic.

People will pay the tax, they will be angry at the government and there will be little if any reduction in carbon emissions. It will be just an additional cost of doing business.

A big part of the problem in dealing with climate change is that it seems to be a battle between “the sky is falling” bunch and those who want to deny that climate change is happening.

The science behind climate change is straightforward and we are seeing the results through floods, extreme winds, melting ice caps, forest fires, etc. To deny climate change is occurring would be foolish. Years of study and monitoring with scientific instruments is not just “a matter of opinion.”

But I think governments need to take a step back and look at what can realistically be done. We might not meet the targets that scientists have set, but we can make substantial improvements.

Governments have been too quick to jump on unproven technologies as a quick solution. Despite considerable improvements in battery and charging technology electric cars, for example, have many shortcomings – and there are no inexpensive electric cars that the average person could buy.

But what about hybrids? That’s a proven technology that substantially reduces carbon emissions and could easily be adopted across all motor vehicles.

Likewise, to move every home and building to a non-fossil fuel heating technology will take time. The technologies exist and are getting better, but unless the government basically pays the full cost of changing out equipment, it won’t get changed unless it is broken.

And then there’s that anger thing.

Ontario now has a climate change denier as premier because the previous government tried to move too fast with little regard for the cost to Ontario residents and businesses. The United States has a similar situation. That’s something this planet and its people cannot afford.


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MCAC Conference on Innovation
April 15 - 16, 2019

Beanfield Centre, Toronto. Please visit or call (613) 232-0492 for more information.

HRAI 2019 Symposium
April 23, 2019

A Low Carbon Economy, Joyce Centre, Mohawk College, Hamilton, Ont. Please visit for more information or contact Caroline Czajko at HRAI.

MCEE 2019
April 24 - 25, 2019

Place Bonaventure, Montreal. Please visit or call Elizabeth McCullough at (613) 232-0492 or email for more information.

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