The majority of British Columbians continue to support the province’s carbon tax, and slightly more are in favour of using the revenue for social spending rather than keeping it revenue neutral, according to a recently released poll.
The tax was implemented in 2008 at $10 per tonne of greenhouse gas pollution, rising by $5 per year until it reached $30 per tonne on July 1 of this year. Angus Reid surveyed a representative sample of 1035 people about the carbon pricing initiative from July 12 to 14 this year for the Pembina Institute.
The B.C. government, led by the Liberals, is currently reviewing of all aspects of the carbon tax, including its revenue neutrality, and is considering ways to mitigate its impact on the competitiveness of food producers. It does not expect to increase or expand it, and will announce the results of the review next year before the May election.
The poll found 71 per cent of participants were supportive of future rate increases if the revenue would be used for health care and education, and 67 per cent were supportive if it would be used for projects that help reduce pollution, such as transit and more energy efficient buildings.
Sixty-two per cent said they would support future increases if revenues would be used to reduce personal income taxes, while 58 per cent would support it if they were used to protect low-income households. Both of those things are currently part of the tax shift.
Support for future increases was lowest if they would be used for corporate tax cuts, at 12 per cent. The carbon tax shift has reduced B.C.’s corporate tax rate from 12 to 10 per cent.
The B.C. NDP has said if elected it would cancel the associated tax cuts for corporations and use some of the revenues for initiatives to reduce pollution, such as transit and energy retrofits.
B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions have declined by 4.5 per cent since the tax was introduced, and energy economists say only part of that can be attributed to the recession.
The poll does not have a margin of error since it was produced through a representative survey, but a probabilistic sample of the size would have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.