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Climate reporter: Despite alarming IPCC report, ‘the topic on many people’s minds at [UN] conference was the violent protests in France over..rising fuel taxes’

By Amy Harder


The big picture: This industry backing for a carbon tax comes at a politically tumultuous time. I spent the past week in the coal-mining city of Katowice, Poland, where world leaders gathered to negotiate details of the 2015 deal.

  • Ahead of that annual United Nations conference, a U.N. science panel released a report saying pricing carbon dioxide emissions is essential to reducing emissions to levels that avoid the worst impacts of a warming world.
  • Yet the topic on many people’s minds at the conference was the violent protests in France over, among other things, rising fuel taxes, which are part of that nation’s climate agenda.

“We don’t have to look that far to see countries that are experiencing challenges,” Catherine McKenna, Canada’s environment minister, said at the conference. Canada, which is rolling out a federal carbon tax next month, will be the latest test case and could affect Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s reelection next year.

  • Some provinces already have carbon-pricing systems, but for those that don’t, the federal government will impose a tax and rebate the proceeds back to citizens.
  • “That’s going to ensure that households are protected from the impact of energy price increases,” Patricia Fuller, Canada’s climate-change ambassador, told me in Katowice.