Politics

What Canadians want to know about rising emissions and the carbon tax

What is Canada's climate plan? How much is the carbon tax costing Canadians? CBC News looks at the key climate-related questions voters have.

Climate change is the second-greatest concern for Canadians going into the election

Canadians say climate change is their second-biggest concern heading into the election. (Lukas Schulze/Getty Images)

Canadians who responded to a recently commissioned poll for CBC News said climate change was their second-biggest concern going into the 2019 election. For younger Canadians — those who will be voting for the first time in 2019 — climate change is the top concern, ahead of jobs and the economy.

Is climate change real?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which provides an annual assessment of the drivers of climate change, its impacts and future risks, has concluded that the "scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal" and that it is "extremely likely" — meaning with 95 per cent certainty — that it was caused by humans. 

Are climate change and global warming the same thing? 

No. As this article explains, global warming refers to rising temperatures, which is only one aspect of climate change. Climate change encompasses a wide range of atmospheric variants, including rising temperatures, forecast unpredictability, extreme weather events and natural disasters such as wildfires, floods and droughts.  

How do Canadians feel about climate change? 

Canadians tell pollsters they are deeply concerned about climate change, and that they are ready to make changes to their everyday lives to help mitigate its effects. But they don't want to pay a financial price for it. 

What could climate change look like in Canada? 

It's already having an effect, and will be felt from coast to coast to coast

What is Canada's climate change plan?

The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change was developed by the Trudeau government with the provinces, territories and Indigenous peoples. It was designed to help Canada reach its emission reductions targets, which under the 2015 Paris climate accord call for a significant reduction in emissions by 2030: 30 per cent below 2005 levels. 

But Canada is struggling. This CBC interactive looks at what it would take for Canada to meet its international targets. 

What is the carbon tax?

A carbon tax is a price levied on each tonne of emissions from fossil fuel sources, be it coal, natural gas, gasoline, etc. The government announced in 2016 that it would bring in a federal carbon tax beginning in 2019. Critics call it a tax grab and say all it will do is cost Canadians more to live their lives. This article looks at all sides — and whether it could work. 

So are Canadians paying more because of the carbon tax?

The government gave all of the provinces and territories about two years to come up with their own plans to cut emissions and help Canada meet the Paris accord targets. Those that refused would be subject to its federal carbon tax. That went into effect April 1, though several provincial governments are fighting it in court. 

This article lays out how much the carbon tax is costing Canadians, how much of a rebate they could receive and whether such a tax has ever worked to actually reduce emissions. 

Earlier this year, the federal government rolled out a carbon tax in six provinces and territories that don't have a carbon-pricing plan. (CBC News)

How does Canada compare to the rest of the world in terms of warming temperatures?

It's not good.

How does Canada measure up against other countries' actions to lower carbon emissions?

Many countries and cities around the world have brought in policies to help reduce carbon emissions. A study out of the U.K. found that while CO2 emissions rose globally between 2005 and 2015, 18 countries managed to buck the trend.

Canada did not make the list.  

What can Canada do to help reduce emissions?

Here are five ways Canada can make an impact when it comes to cutting carbon emissions, as laid out in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change: 

  • Accelerate the phase-out of coal and diesel power generation.
  • Create a pan-Canadian plan for zero-emissions transportation.
  • Reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.
  • Stop subsidizing the oil and gas sector.
  • Synch up federal and provincial building codes.

The full details are here. 

How can I track my own carbon footprint?

There are several ways you can track your own emissions from everything from doing laundry to your work commute to your summer vacation travel.

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