Carbon taxes are an efficient way to reduce energy use and related carbon pollution in homes and businesses, fostering greater innovation and adoption of clean energy technologies, Canada’s non-partisan National Energy Board (NEB) concludes in a report issued last week.
“Pricing carbon and adopting complementary climate actions will encourage businesses and households to improve efficiencies and reduce emissions while helping to build a more resilient economy,” the report stated. “Carbon taxes often require little additional bureaucracy and can be incorporated within an existing tax system,” it added, and they’re “transparent and predictable.”
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That analysis represents a shift from the Board’s past uncertainty about the federal government’s ability to enforce carbon pricing across Canada, National Observer reports. But the report “finds that while Canada is diversifying and adopting cleaner energy sources, it remains one of the most emission-intensive countries in the world. It identifies the pace by which Canada will be able to transition to a low-carbon economy as a significant area of uncertainty.”
“The drive to reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions is a global focus, and Canada’s energy transition to a lowercarbon economy faces a variety of challenges and uncertainties,” NEB Chief Economist Denis Charlebois said in a release. “Our report provides an overview for Canadians on how the pace of change in energy markets, policy, and technology may impact Canada’s energy transition.”
The report indicates that “Canada’s energy sources are becoming more diverse, and energy use and economic growth are decoupling,” Observer states. “The regulator notes Canada’s energy demand is already slowing, and energy sources are becoming less carbon-intensive. In a scenario in which Canada adopts more clean energy technologies, Canadians will use 15% less total energy and 30% fewer fossil fuels by 2040.”
At that rate, analyst and self-described “chart geek” Barry Saxifrage writes in a separate post for Observer, Canada is on track to meet its 2030 climate targets—200 years late —and to hit its 2050 goals by the year 2961. (As Saxifrage suggests, let’s all mark our calendars, shall we?)
“One thousand years might sound shocking but, actually, I’ve been low-balling the problem. If you look more closely at the emissions data, we would never reach Canada’s climate targets,” he writes.
That’s because the Canadian fossil industry “has its own ‘overall trend’ when it comes to emitting climate pollution. And its emissions trend has been rapidly and relentlessly upwards for as long as Canada has been keeping records,” at a rate of 2% per year (a doubling  every 35 years) since 2005.
Already, he says, Canada’s oil and gas industry “pollutes 50 million tonnes more than the entire country’s 2050 climate target.”