Hello, #onpoli people,
Last week, the #onpoli podcast returned with our first episode of the season. Today, the wizard of wonkery John Michael McGrath is back with an explainer on one of the biggest policy issues you’ll need to know about in this election.
This week, we’re talking about carbon pricing. The writs were drawn up just last Wednesday and campaigns can be unpredictable, but what’s certain is that the carbon tax will be front and centre until the Oct. 21 vote.
In today’s #onpoli episode, John Michael breaks down how carbon pricing works, then charts its long, strange journey in Canada. He also speaks with the Insurance Bureau of Canada and Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith. They share how we are, in a very real way, already paying for climate change in the form of rising insurance premiums and increasing damage from fires and floods.
As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, it wasn’t long ago that support for carbon pricing seemed to be growing in Canada.
The province of British Columbia was humming along with a carbon tax it had implemented back in 2008. Federally, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were elected in 2015 on a platform that included a carbon tax. In Ontario, Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government brought in a cap-and-trade program. The list goes on. As 2018 began, most Canadians were living with a carbon price in their province.
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“Up until about the middle of 2018 ... we could say that the consensus was building, for sure,” Chris Ragan, a McGill economist and chair of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, says in this episode.
So what happened?
Listen to our latest episode, in which John Michael breaks it all down.
You’re going to pay one way or another
What are we really talking about when we discuss carbon pricing? We’re talking about grappling with the issue of climate change, of course.
“The insurance industry has been outspoken over the last few years,” says Craig Stewart of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, “about how [climate change] is costing Canadians in general.”
Insurance claims related to climate change in the 1990s were about $400 million per year, he says. In 2018, it was over $2 billion.
“You’re going to pay one way or another,” says John Michael. “We’ll either pay at the pumps with a carbon tax, or we’ll pay more in insurance premiums and property taxes as our cities and towns try to keep up with freak weather.”