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Supreme Court ruling paves way for federal government to take strong climate action

VICTORIA — Merran Smith, executive director at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling that the federal government’s carbon pricing system is constitutional:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision makes clear that the federal government has the authority to tackle climate change at the level required—something Canadians both want and expect from their political leaders. 

“Any serious climate plan needs a backbone that does the heavy lifting, and carbon pricing is widely considered the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions. It’s the intersection of climate ambition and smart economic policy.

“As our largest trading partners, from the U.S. to the EU, chart ambitious courses to cleaner economies, it’s even more crucial that we use policies like carbon pricing to make our exports lower carbon and thus more competitive.

“It’s also important to remember that Canada’s price on pollution gives money back to Canadians in the form of a rebate. Most households receive more than they pay, especially low-income Canadians who tend to use less energy.

“And let’s not forget that many Canadians are already feeling the effects of climate change. The average cost of a natural disaster has risen more than tenfold in the last fifty years, and one in 10 Canadian households are now at risk of extreme flooding.

“Now is the time to move forward together and strengthen, not tear down, our plans to build a clean and prosperous Canada.”


  • The federal carbon price is proposed to gradually rise from $40 a tonne in 2021 to $170 a tonne in 2030. Because the carbon price will continue to be revenue neutral, the federal government will keep returning the proceeds to Canadians and the majority of households will continue receiving more than they pay.
  • For the second year in a row, the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s February review of the federal carbon pricing system concluded that because of the Climate Action Incentive rebate, “most households will receive higher transfers than amounts paid in fuel charges” and “the net benefits are broadly progressive by income group. That is, lower income households will receive larger net transfers than higher income households.”
  • According to the World Bank, 46 national and 32 subnational jurisdictions accounting for 22% of global GHG emissions already have a carbon price in place or scheduled for implementation. 
  • Sweden currently operates the highest carbon price in the world (around C$177 per tonne of carbon dioxide). Since its introduction in 1991, Sweden’s emissions have decreased by 27% while its GDP has grown by 83%. 
  • As jurisdictions like the EU and U.S. are considering border carbon adjustments to condition market access, ambitious domestic climate action that includes a strong carbon price offers the best chance at ensuring Canadian businesses can competitively supply those markets.
  • In Ontario, a majority (55%) of Progressive Conservative voters would support Premier Doug Ford’s decision to implement a carbon price and rebate in Ontario.


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