Energy Policy, Vol.131, 380-389, 2019
The long and short run effects of British Columbia's carbon tax on diesel demand
In 2008, the government of the province of British Columbia (B.C.) broke new ground in North America by introducing a revenue-neutral carbon tax on fossil fuel use. The rate was initially set at $10/ton of CO2 and then raised annually by increments of $5 to reach $30/ton in 2012. We measure the impact of the tax on diesel users; these are primarily businesses involved in heavy industries, mining, construction, and commercial transportation, and they represent 18.2% of B.C. fossil fuel emissions. Based on a cointegration equation and a related error-correction model, we find that, over 2008-2016, the combined long and short run carbon tax impact has resulted in an average of 5.85 cent/litre increase at the pump, and a reduction of 1.24 L in monthly per capita diesel consumption. The average annual reduction amounts to 1.3% of B.C. 2008 diesel emissions and 0.2% of total emissions in the province in that same year. This decrease is relatively modest when we consider Canada's Paris Agreement commitment to reduce GHG emissions by 30% by the year 2030.