Citing the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, British Columbia (B.C.) has announced it will delay its next scheduled carbon tax hike. This is the second COVID-related adjustment to its carbon tax stringency plan.
The September 2, 2020 announcement means that the jump from $40 per tonne to $45 per tonne that had been expected no sooner than October 2020 will be delayed firmly until April 2021. The jump to $45 per tonne had originally been scheduled for April 2020, but the government said it would put that on hold for at least six months in the wake of a widespread economic shutdown in the province.
Even with this latest delay, B.C.’s carbon price will remain ahead of the carbon pricing schedule in the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and still on track to meet the required federal carbon-pricing backstop rate of $50 per tonne of CO2e by 2022.
While acknowledging the need to support B.C. businesses, communities and workers in an economy bruised by a pandemic, Josha MacNab, national policy director at the Pembina Institute, worries that the decision sends the wrong signal.
“Securing a resilient economic recovery for B.C. calls for the government to stay the course on key climate policies, such as pollution pricing, that help grow a sustainable, clean economy,” MacNab said in a release. “Now is not the time to slow B.C.’s momentum.”
The Opposition B.C. Green Party took a harder line. “The NDP’s choice advances the interests of the oil and gas industry more than it offers any real relief for British Columbians,” said MLA and Party Leadership Candidate Sonia Furstenau in a statement.
B.C. wasn’t just picking on the carbon tax. Two other planned tax changes — the elimination of the provincial sales tax exemption for several carbonated beverages and the addition of new provincial sales tax registration and collection requirements for e-commerce businesses located outside British Columbia — have also been delayed until April 2021.