British Columbia

B.C. carbon tax sees gas prices rise again

Gas prices are set to increase again in British Columbia as the final instalment of the province's carbon tax comes into effect on Canada Day.

Gas prices are set to rise again in British Columbia as the final instalment of the province's carbon tax comes into effect on Canada Day.

The increase of 1.11 cents per litre is the last of several steady increases over the past four years that have seen the carbon tax on gasoline rise to almost seven cents a litre.

The B.C. government says the carbon tax has brought in $500 million in revenue, which has gone towards reducing personal income taxes and business taxes.

Environmentalist Ian Bruce of the David Suzuki Foundation says the tax has changed the way people in B.C. consume fuel, with an incentive for consumers and businesses to switch to greener practices or cleaner technology.

"I think the carbon tax has been an incentive for companies to innovate new ways at reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and coming up with new solutions," he said.

"B.C.'s technology sector has done just that. It's one of the fastest growing sectors in B.C.'s economy. It employs about 10,000 people. It continues to grow; it's actually going to surpass the mining industry in B.C. for the amount of jobs it produces."

Review planned

But Mark Jaccard, a professor of environmental economics at Simon Fraser University, believes it will take 20 years before the province can speculate on the success or failure of the tax.

"It would be shocking if a carbon tax had made a difference in a couple of years and it hasn't," he said.

The controversial tax has also divided political parties.

The B.C. Conservatives say it's got to go, while the NDP wants to keep it but put revenues toward green initatives and transit.

The ruling B.C. Liberals released a report on its greenhouse gas reduction progress last week, showing a 4.5-per-cent reduction in emissions over the past five years.

The province's long-term goal is a reduction of 33 per cent by 2020. However, the provincial government appears undecided about the tax and are planning a review.