Carbon tax or cap-and-trade?

We hear the terms “carbon tax” and “cap-and-trade” quite a lot these days, but what exactly do they mean?

In a nutshell, a carbon tax is a fee placed on greenhouse gas pollution resulting mainly from burning fossil fuels. It is one of the most powerful incentives governments have to discourage industries and households from emitting greenhouse gases.  In so doing, governments encourage greener technologies and practices.  In Canada, B.C. and Quebec use carbon taxes to reduce emissions.

In a cap-and-trade system, governments put a firm limit, or cap, on the level  of carbon pollution by industry and reduce that cap each year until they reach a set pollution target.  Companies thus have a real incentive to adopt greener technologies and support clean energy.  For example, since the early 1980s, cap-and-trade has reduced acid rain-forming emissions by nearly half.

To learn more about them, click here.

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For a timely discussion on energy and ecology, take a look at one of our library’s books entitled Life without oil : why we must shift to a new energy future by Steve Hallett.  He offers a realistic vision of the near future and many important lessons about the limits of our resources.     363.7571 H186


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