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Carbon Tax: Open Wallets Help Open Minds
Motorists here and throughout British Columbia are paying more at the pump after a planned rate increase to the province's much-debated carbon surcharge on gasoline.
The jump to 3.6 cents per litre from 2.4 cents went into effect on July 1, marking the one-year anniversary of the levy. Increases also cover diesel, natural gas, coal and similar fuels.
No one wants to open their wallet even wider when they refuel, but it's worth considering why the tax was implemented.
The B.C. government says it created the "revenue-neutral" surcharge - the first of its kind in a North American jurisdiction - to prompt individuals and businesses to question their reliance on the conventional fuel sources that scientists have linked to global climate change.
As a strategy to raise more public awareness about carbon emissions and encourage new behaviours, the tax has its critics. But given how hard it is to ignore a pinch in the pocketbook, many people will hear the carbon tax's message about the importance of environmentally sustainable modes of transportation.
And looking around the mid Island, there are more and more signs that message is timely. The local governments in North Cowichan and Duncan are establishing bylaws that will open the roads to zero-emission vehicles, and a group of green-minded Cowichan residents is working to start a car-sharing network.
Love it or hate it, the provincial government's carbon tax is at least a reminder of the environmental cost of each tank of gas.