By Simon Dessureault, PhD Student, Public Policy at Carleton University

British Columbia’s Carbon Tax Impact on Industrial Sector Emissions: Comparing Policy Effectiveness with the EU Emissions Trading System’

To mitigate climate change effects, British Columbia (BC) implemented a carbon tax in July 2008. However, British Columbia’s (BC) emissions increased by 5.6% between 2005 and 2018 largely due to a surge in emissions from the transportation and oil and gas extraction sectors (ECCC, 2020), while the Rest of Canada’s (ROC) emissions decreased by 0.6% over this same period (ECCC, 2019). These outcomes may suggest that BC carbon tax was not effective in reducing emissions, however to fully assess whether this is true one also needs to look at the emissions trajectory in view of overall economic growth and sectoral patterns. Also, BC’s increase in emissions is not in line with Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement which is to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 emissions levels by 2030. This policy memo poses the following research question:
Can a facility-level analysis of emissions provide evidence-based policy recommendations to increase BC carbon tax effectiveness? To answer this question, a comparative facility-level impact analysis is conducted to assess BC carbon tax impact on large industrial facilities’ emissions, which allows for the development evidence-based policy recommendations. Key findings are compared with the results of the most rigorous studies that have assessed the impact on emissions of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).


This policy memo is one of ten policy memos for the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Program Support for Associations project “Building capacity for Canada’s European Studies community: the European Community Studies Association Canada (ECSA-C) as a research and outreach hub” (ECSA-Cn).

Young ECSA-C scholars from Canada and Europe were invited to come up with policy advise in their respective fields of research in close collaboration with the five ECSA-C research groups: * Democracy/ led by Oliver Schmidtke, University of Victoria; * Environment, Climate Change and Energy/ led by Joan Debardeleben, Carleton University; * Foreign Policy and Security/ led by Frédéric Mérand, Université de Montréal; * Migration/ led by Ruben Zaiotti, Dalhousie University; * Political Economy/ led by Kurt Hübner, University of British Columbia. The initiative Europe Canada Network (, coordinated by Beate Schmidtke, collaborates closely with the ECSA-C team.

The policy memo series is designed to contribute to the public debate on core challenges in public policy making with a particular emphasis on comparative, transatlantic perspectives. It is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union. 


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