Taxing Emissions: Quebec’s road to sustainability

Frustrated by the newly elected federal government inaction on the Environment portfolio, the Quebec provincial government recently announced plans to implement a taxation based carbon emission reduction program on its own. The revenues from new scheme will fund $1.2 billion Green Fund as Quebec aligns itself with the environmental policies of California.

It should be noted that Quebec has longtime been counter mainstream with higher per capita spending and taxation of all Canadian provinces. Quebec is also the leading producer of renewable hydroelectric energy in North America. As a result, government intervention in the area of non-renewable, emission-producing technologies is not at all surprising.

The Federal Government appears to be uncomfortable by this move by one of its provincial governments. The newly elected Conservative government has advocated less Federal Government intervention in the area of provincial jurisdiction. Perhaps they didn’t foresee that this governing approach would bread this type of counter conservative approach to emission controls. This move by Quebec has clearly put the Federal government on the defensive in terms of environmental policy and put one of its key provinces in a leadership position.

Industry response has been completely predictable in that they warn of higher prices due to higher taxation.
Will this work? Quebecers have a long history of heavy government intervention in areas seen to contribute to the building of a French Nation in North America. Quebecers have accepted higher taxation when it promises to improve the wellbeing of the nation. I don’t know if this taxation scheme will work to reduce emissions in the short run but I commend the Government of Quebec for stepping in the vacuum created by the federal government inaction and proposing bold action to address this pressing issue.

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Posted in ecological tax reform, government policy
2 comments on “Taxing Emissions: Quebec’s road to sustainability
  1. Ron says:

    Jason,
    If Quebec is a leader in terms of environmental issues, why have they not introduced a recycling tax on electronic products like Alberta has on February 1, 2005?

  2. Jason Charron says:

    Good for Alberta…sounds like a great idea. Someone has to go first. If we are doing the tit for tat thing, Quebec can claim leadership in recycling cans and bottles thanks to their consignment scheme. Quebec has the highest level of recycling of all provinces. This kind of friendly competition between jurisdictions is actually very useful in getting more done…Maybe Quebec’s move to manage emissions might spur other jurisdictions to do the same or something similar…that would be success. Thanks for your comment…

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