How Canadians feel about the carbon tax

10 April 2019

How Canadians feel about the carbon tax

The carbon tax is now a reality for all Canadians. While some believe it’s an important initiative to reduce fossil fuel consumption, others are worried about increased costs. We took a look at how Canadians feel about the federal pricing scheme across the country by polling 1,200 Canadian adults. We’ve also included some information about how the carbon tax works and tips on how you can reduce your fossil fuel consumption.

National carbon tax sentiment overview

While almost a quarter of the population thinks the carbon tax is a good thing, 33.58% – the equivalent of more than 10 million Canadians – don’t want it. A decent proportion of Canadians also don’t understand how the carbon tax will impact them, with 12.50%, or around 3.75 million, falling into this category.

Central Canadians most likely to think the carbon tax is a good thing

Central Canadians are the most likely to think the carbon tax is a good thing because climate change and gas emissions are national concerns (28.11%). People in the Atlantic Region are the next most likely (22.22%), followed by 19.66% in the West Coast and 18.86% in the Prairie Provinces. Due to not having enough respondents, the North (Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon) was not included.

Let’s take a look at how the carbon tax is applied

  • The carbon tax is a levy applied to fossil fuels based on how much carbon dioxide they release when burned.
  • The price of carbon starts at $20 per tonne of carbon dioxide released. It will increase every year to reach $50 per tonne by 2022.
  • The federal carbon tax is being applied in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick as of April 1, 2019.
  • The federal government has said it will return all carbon tax revenues to the province from which it was collected.
  • Residents in other provinces are paying an equivalent tax. This is because the federal and provincial governments made an agreement which gave provinces the flexibility to devise their own policies.

Those in the Prairie Provinces least likely to want the carbon tax

Those living in the Prairie Provinces are least likely to want the carbon tax (46.49%), followed by the West Coast (36.75%), the Atlantic Region (30%) and Central Canada (29.95%).

Interestingly, the older the individual, the less likely they are to want the carbon tax. The exception is those 65 years and older who had just over 36% saying they don’t want it, which is lower than the 55-64 age bracket (39.55%). Younger generations appear to be more accepting of increased taxes for fossil fuel use, with less than 15% of those aged 18-24 saying they don’t want the carbon tax.

Many Canadians don’t understand how the carbon tax will impact them

While young people are more accepting of a carbon tax, they’re actually the least likely to understand how their finances will be impacted. According to our survey, 19.15% of Canadian adults aged 18-24 admit they don’t understand how the carbon tax will affect them. However, those aged 55-64 were the most likely to understand how they will be impacted by the changes, with only 10.82% saying they don’t understand how they’ll be impacted.

What will it cost?

  • The total individual cost is dependent on how much fossil fuel energy is used.
  • It’s estimated that average household costs will range from $200 a year in New Brunswick to $400 in Saskatchewan.
  • Under the federal scheme, families in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick are eligible for a carbon tax credit.
  • Given the government is returning carbon tax revenues, most taxpayers will get more money back than they will pay in rebates.
  • Estimates put the average rebate at $250 in New Brunswick to $600 in Saskatchewan.

The cost of emissions and rebates

Those in Central Canada were most likely to think the cost of the carbon tax should be independent of where someone lives (11.37%), while 9.44% of those in the Atlantic Region agreed with the statement.

It is Canadians in the West Coast who are most likely to think rebates to low and middle income households should be available throughout the year, with over 26.5% feeling this way.

Reducing emissions

Canada has one of the most ambitious carbon pricing programs in the world, with the Trudeau government looking to reduce emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, according to the New York Times. However, over a third (37.25%, or roughly 11.1 million) of Canadian adults don’t think the carbon tax will reduce emissions enough to reduce the rate of climate change. Close to half of those in the Prairie Provinces feel this way (45.18%), compared to 30% of those in the Atlantic Region.

Saving money

Whether you think the carbon tax will reduce emissions or not, it’s important to understand how it works and what it means. The carbon tax has been designed to incentivise customers to conserve energy or switch to less carbon-intensive fuels, according to Kathryn Harrison, a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia. This means that those who use fossil fuels will pay more. Common uses include electricity and heating bills, along with driving costs. So if you’re looking to reduce costs associated with the carbon tax, these are good places to start.

With that in mind, here are a few practical ways you can reduce your fossil fuel consumption:

1. Take public transport

Instead of driving, you can take public transportation or carpool with friends. While it’s not always as convenient, it does allow you to spend that time doing something else like working or reading a book. Another option is to walk or ride a bike, which will count as your daily exercise too!

2. Use alternate energy

Consider going solar to reduce your fossil fuel consumption. While it requires a larger upfront investment, it’s something that can save you a considerable amount of cash in the long run.

3. Get energy efficient products

You can reduce your electrical consumption at home by buying more energy-efficient products. In particular, white goods like fridges or washing machines can be giant energy guzzlers. It might not be practical to upgrade your white goods now, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind for future purchases. Smaller products like light bulbs can also go a long way in reducing energy consumption. If you’ve never paid attention to the globes you use, it might be time to consider going LED.

4. Moderate your home temperature in other ways

Instead of cranking the heating or aircon, consider other ways to warm or cool your home to save on energy bills. In summer, this might mean opening the doors and windows to allow for a cool breeze. In winter, you could try blocking the space under doors to stop a cool draft. Another option would be to simply wear warmer pants and tops inside.

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