December 1, 2016
When you eat a whole pint of ice cream in one sitting, you may feel the impact of overindulging, and – if you do it often enough without enough trips to the gym – eventually you’ll see it on your waistline. That’s just cause and effect, and you’re better off not trying to fight it.
Really, it’s a good thing, because it acts as a natural buffer preventing us from going overboard with the good stuff. But when it comes to pollution in our atmosphere, the cause and effect isn’t quite as clear. Unlike dealing with the all too real impact of taking down too many pints of ice cream, carbon emissions and other pollutants don’t initially have as clear of a cause and effect. This has resulted in polluters who have a serious case of the munchies who aren’t feeling the consequences!
From Calories to Carbon
One particular pollutant we hear about time and time again: carbon pollution (CO2). From coal plants to tailpipes, carbon emissions are coming from so many parts of our society but with little consequence to those who are profiting from them, while driving the impacts of climate change. By putting a price on carbon emissions, we send a clear message to fossil fuel companies’, letting them know our climate isn’t theirs for profit.
Meanwhile the resulting revenues can be used to invest in renewable energy, community development, or however else government sees fit. Everyone’s a winner! We’re firm believers in carbon pricing, and even introduced our own carbon tax for our company.
While a carbon pollution tax is just one form of a pricing solution, there are many flavors of carbon pricing including others such as carbon cap and trade (we won’t get into the weeds here, but check out this amazing video for an explanation). Last year, various carbon pricing schemes around the world were valued at over $50 billion!
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Does Your Country Make Polluters Pay?
An illuminating report by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) ranked 41 of the world’s major countries in terms of carbon pricing and holding polluters accountable. As you’d expect, some countries are doing better than others.
Here’s a quick round up of countries making polluters pay the most:
Climate junkies will be unsurprised to find the Netherlands heading up the list of countries with ambitious climate policy. At a cost of €54.63 per tonne of CO2 emitted, it holds a clear global lead on aggressive carbon pricing.
It’s also no shock to find Scandinavian countries living up to their progressive reputation. Of these, Denmark ranks first with a carbon price of €47.4 per tonne, with Norway a close second at €46.74, Sweden coming in third at €30.66, followed by Finland at €23.74.
Not content with just producing excellent chocolate, classy watches, and world-class tennis players, Switzerland has opted for an equally competitive approach to carbon taxation. At €31.47 per ton of CO2, it’s up there with the globe’s big-hitters.
Although Canada isn’t doing well by European standards, its paltry carbon price of €3.38 per tonne is still nearly fives times as high as the US. However, all that is set to change, with plans to introduce nationwide carbon taxation by 2018. Oh, Canada!
Bringing Up the Rear
No surprises to find the world’s largest two polluters lurking at the back of the pack, hoping nobody notices. We see you, US and China! Despite churning out 38% of global greenhouse emissions, US carbon pricing is at an incredibly low €0.76 per tonne, with an only slightly less woeful figure of €1.55 from China. These should not be construed as proper carbon pricing, but more so taxes to the consumer that we’re all used to paying at the gas pump.
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Didn’t see your country? Check out the full report, here.
If You’ve Got It, Spend It!
Across the world, we’re making our way towards economies that value clean, healthy air and our environment, and make polluters pay. In places that are ahead of the curve, there are various schools of thought on how to spend carbon revenues. In British Columbia, Canada, which introduced carbon taxing back in 2008, the funds go towards cutting corporate and income taxes. In Europe, the lion’s share of revenues go towards supporting clean energy and other climate-friendly initiatives. While in California – forward-looking as ever – the money goes to programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with a caveat that a quarter of the revenues must benefit disadvantaged communities.
Paying for Pollution
Whatever we spend the revenue on, one thing is certain: we can no longer continue burning carbon with little or no thought to how it destroys all of the benefits of a healthy environment. There’s an ecological debt to pay, and sooner or later we’ll all be shelling out!
Taxing emissions is a step in the right direction, but in the long run, we’re all for eliminating them altogether! Join us and let’s consign our dependence on fossil fuels to the history books by demanding our world leaders transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050!
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