VICTORIA, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada’s westernmost province will impose a comprehensive carbon tax, the British Columbia government said on Tuesday, dismissing complaints from critics that such fees to fight climate change will hurt the economy.
The tax on fossil fuels will raise C$1.85 billion ($1.82 billion) over the next three years, but officials were quick to describe the plan as “revenue neutral” because it will be offset by tax cuts and a one-time payment to each provincial resident this year.
The Pacific Coast province said the plan will be among the world’s most comprehensive and was needed to meet British Columbia’s promise to cut emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming by 33 percent by 2020.
Canada’s federal government has been cool to the idea of a national carbon tax and said it does not want provinces to enact patchwork legislation to address emissions.
British Columbia has also been working with a coalition of U.S. states and Canadian provinces to enact a system to trade carbon credits. Details are expected to be released later this year.
The carbon tax was unveiled as part of the C$37.7 billion budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year, which begins at the end of March.
Reporting Allan Dowd; Editing by Rob Wilson