Environmentalists have long proposed taxing carbon emissions as a way of combating global warming — but if a new Canadian law is any indication, implementing such a tax won’t be easy in the United States.
The carbon tax, which so far is levied only in British Columbia, had not even gone into effect yet last month when politicians from other provinces began saying it would fail, and drag the whole country down with it.
Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the tax, which was put forward by Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion, will hurt Western Canada and “screw” the rest of the country too, according to Canwest News Service.
Both parties are accusing the other of fanning the flames of controversy over the tax for political advantage.
“This is the most cynical, bloody minded kind of regionally divisive politics imaginable that they’re playing,” Calgary legislator Jason Kenney told Canwest.
So far, British Columbia is the only province to adopt the tax, which works on a scale of 10 Canadian dollars per ton of carbon emissions, and is scheduled to rise to 30 dollars per ton by 2012.
That would mean a rise in gasoline prices of about 2.4 Canadian cents per liter (or less than 2 U.S. cents per gallon) by 2012, according to CTV.
The furor over the tax has pitted not only Conservatives against Liberals and vice versa, but also the eastern half of the country against the west, as Dion prepares to take the tax to Alberta and other provinces.
And it’s not just politicians who are upset about the tax.
A report on the CTV Web site quoted British Columbia residents who were upset about paying more at the gas pump.
“The government should look at themselves first before they look at tackling little guys like me,” the Web site quoted motorist Trish O’Brien as saying. “I do what I can. I recycle everything that’s not nailed down. I drive a small car and take the bus when I can, and I walk.”
The tax went into effect Tuesday, which was the Canada Day holiday.
“Carbon tax goes into effect in B.C. on Canada Day”
CTV, June 30, 2008
“Clouds over Western horizon”
The Gazette, June 30, 2008