Skip to content

Climate Crossroads: Axing the tax is not a good idea

"The emissions cap should be written in the best interests of people in Canada — not oil and gas companies."

This catchy phrase has become very popular with some politicians and citizens, but a closer look does not point to it as an intelligent move.

A general tax on all forms of carbon pollution holds the largest potential for reducing our emissions and the government needs to keep it in place if Canadians are to contribute responsibly to the global effort. The rationale that it is having a severe impact on the cost of living, an economic concern, is a continuation of the thinking that got us into this mess in the first place, a conservative rather than progressive approach. That is, the prioritizing of economic issues over environmental ones.

If we carry on in that mode, we are on the road to global climate disaster, as outlined in two very recent reports from the United Nations as well as OXFAM.

Climate change impacts are here now. It isn’t just a problem for the future. Extreme weather events are already negatively affecting communities and ecosystems worldwide, including here in BC and the rest of Canada. Last summer’s wildfires are a tragic example. Imagine that and worse happening every year.

We must get our carbon emissions under control and down quickly. And everyone needs to contribute.

The oil and gas sector is the largest and fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, so we can’t meet our critical climate targets without reducing these emissions. However the fossil-fuel industry continues to spend millions on government lobbyists, interference with legislation at all levels, exploration and infrastructure development, and increased production projections. The oil and gas companies are acting like drug pushers with an “addicted” populace, as George W. Bush famously put it.

The federal government must announce an ambitious cap on oil and gas emissions before heading to COP 28, the United Nations Climate Conference in Dubai starting on November 30. The emissions cap should be written in the best interests of people in Canada — not oil and gas companies.

Most people in Canada want a fair but effective cap that will reduce oil and gas emissions by at least 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, in line with the national goal. The more the better.

The excuse the fossil-fuel industry typically uses to minimize its responsibility for climate change is that it is simply meeting our demand. To some degree that is true, so we must all work to reduce that demand in our own lives.

Switch your home to a heat pump instead of burning “natural” gas, essentially methane. Electrify your ride for the running around, short range portion of your transportation. There are more secondhand EVs on the market now than ever, and electric bikes are a really fun way to get about.

The future of our communities and the planet is at stake. Call on the federal government to stick to its guns on the emissions cap and get the fossil-fuel companies under control and contributing to solutions.

William Lytle-McGhee is a member of qathet Climate Alliance.

Join the Peak's email list for the top headlines right in your inbox Monday to Friday.