The fate of the federal pollution price will be decided by the Supreme Court this morning. It has the potential to become a landmark case in the division of federal and provincial powers, as well as a key decision in Canadian climate politics.
The court will rule on the constitutionality of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. The act, which was passed in 2018, establishes a minimum price on greenhouse gas emissions in provinces that do not have their own system. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario have all filed lawsuits against the law, claiming that it violates their taxing powers and constitutionally protected right to develop their own natural resources.
Carbon pricing is an important part of the Liberal climate plan, but it has long been fodder for partisan squabbles with conservative politicians on both the provincial and federal levels. Individuals and small businesses in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario are currently subject to the federal carbon price.
The cost of purchasing fuels, ranging from gasoline and diesel to aviation fuel, coal, and natural gas, is factored into the price. It currently costs $30 per tonne, which adds about 8.8 cents per litre to gasoline and about $15 per month to the average household natural gas bill. The revenues from the carbon price are mostly returned to families in the provinces that pay the national price through tax rebates.
For large emitters, a separate system applies a price to a portion of their actual emissions. It only applies in Manitoba and Prince Edward Island in its entirety. The existence of both programs was challenged in court.
News and picture Source: The Canadian Press