The World Today for June 10, 2021

NEED TO KNOW

CANADA

Taxing the Air

The Canadian Supreme Court this year issued an important decision with worldwide implications when its justices approved Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan to tax carbon emissions.

“Climate change is real,” said Chief Justice Richard Wagner, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “It is caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities, and it poses a grave threat to humanity’s future.”

The decision was an important step forward for those seeking to battle climate change, argued Washington Post columnist David Moscrop. Even lawmakers and the courts in an energy-rich nation like Canada have demonstrated that they can overcome climate change deniers and others who opposed the tax.

Meanwhile, many are watching. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has called on governments around the world to impose carbon taxes to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to reduce global warming through cutting emissions, the National reported.

Democrats in Oregon are similarly looking to Canada as proof that carbon taxes don’t need to hobble local economies, the Associated Press wrote. Republicans in the state have blocked carbon tax plans in recent years while British Columbia next door has implemented a local carbon tax that has worked well.

Some Canadian farmers would disagree. They face higher costs as they pay taxes on transportation, electricity and other agricultural necessities, Grant Diamond, a tax analyst in Saskatchewan, Canada, claimed in an opinion piece in the Western Producer, a Canadian farm publication. Those costs will increase grocery bills, he added.

Structural economic risks are possible, too. Nobel Prize-winning Joseph Stiglitz believes governments are doing too little to combat climate change. But he recently warned that carbon taxes would increase the price of fuel but cut the costs of fossil fuel assets, creating potentially damaging transitions and disruptions as people adjust, the South China Morning Post reported.

That forecast could potentially harm Canada in numerous ways. The country’s pension funds, for example, are heavily invested in the tar sands that have caused an energy boom in the nation but have increased emissions significantly, Reuters noted.

Opposition to a new carbon tax in Washington means the US won’t likely adopt any plan soon, wrote Politico, even as President Joe Biden is pushing for a number of measures to fight climate change.

Others will lead in the meantime.

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