The Current

Why does the idea of a carbon tax divide conservatives in Canada?

As COP24 gets underway in Poland, the question of putting a price on carbon is back in the spotlight. The idea divides conservatives in Canada; some argue it's the best way to fight climate change, while others say it's a surefire way to kill jobs. Is there a conservative case for carbon taxes? We hear from voices on both side of the debate.

With the COP24 underway in Poland, carbon pricing is back in the spotlight

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently published a report saying one of the keys to cutting carbon emissions is putting a price on them. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
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Putting a price on carbon is our best bet to spur individual action against climate change, according to a conservative economist.

"We're not talking here about a policy to make changes over a year or four years," said Christopher Ragan, chair of Canada's Ecofiscal Commission and an economics professor at McGill University.

"We're really talking about a policy ... that will also rise over time, and drive a gradual change in behaviour over 30, 40 and 50 years," he told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

The UN's COP24 — or the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change — is underway in Poland today, putting carbon pricing back in the spotlight. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently published a report saying one of the keys to cutting carbon emissions is putting a price on them. 

Many conservatives argue a carbon tax will not have a substantial impact on greenhouse gas emissions. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The idea divides conservatives in Canada. Some argue it's the best way to fight climate change, while others say it's a surefire way to kill jobs, and wouldn't have a substantial impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

"We seem to think that if we make gas a little more expensive, something big is going to happen," said Randall Denley, an Ottawa commentator and former Ontario Progressive Conservative candidate. "And I think that is a misperception when you consider how much the price of gasoline fluctuates."

"In Ontario we were paying $1.30 for gas a couple of months ago, now we're paying a dollar. If it becomes $1.05, what effect is that really going to have?"

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.


Produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson and Julie Crysler.

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