This article explores the various types of provincial carbon-pricing strategies and looks at some of the challenges facing the development of a federal carbon strategy.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Environmental studies, world issues, politics

Key Questions to Explore:

  • What are the main two types of carbon pricing?
  • Why does Canada not have a national carbon strategy?
  • What are the challenges facing the development of a national strategy?

New Terminology:

Cap and trade

Materials Needed:

Copies of the article for the students

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

The Harper Conservative government consistently refused to develop a national policy on carbon emissions. Instead, it argued that it would do it sector by sector and wait upon developments in the United Sates. Stephen Harper, throughout his time as prime minister, refused to meet collectively with the premiers and refused to take the lead on the development of an effective national approach to reining in carbon emissions. With the election of the federal Liberal Party under the leadership of Justin Trudeau there has been a dramatic shift. The federal government is taking the lead on this issue and the hope is that, this fall, a national policy to address carbon emissions will be developed. This lesson will have the students  use the selected article to get a brief understanding of the current state of carbon strategies and the challenges facing the development of a national plan and then to role play, assuming the role of prime minister who will lead the development of a national policy.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by informing the students that the focus of the lesson will be on strategies to address carbon emissions.
  • Ask them to suggest, as things currently stand, which province will have the most stringent carbon pricing by 2020.
  • Once Alberta has been identified as that province, ask them if this surprises them and get their reasons.
  • With this as background, divide class into groups of four to six and give them copies of the article to read.
  • Allow the groups time to read the article and assign them the following task:

Assume that you are Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and that you are going to lead the upcoming provincial premiers conference designed to develop a national strategy on carbon pricing. As background for that conference and in preparation for the meetings answer the following questions and, as a final task, prepare a report for the class on what you believe the national strategy should be.

    1. Why is there a resistance to the development of a national plan?
    2. What needs to be done to overcome this resistance?
    3. How can this be done?
    4. And finally, what should our national plan look like?
  • Allow the groups time to complete their tasks.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have each of the groups present their findings and answer any questions from the class.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the various plans currently in effect.
  • Show an understanding of the challenges facing the development of a national plan.
  • Offer ideas on what the final national plan should be like.

Confirming Activity:

  • Once the groups have reported conduct a plenary session during which the class will seek a consensus on what would be the best national approach to addressing carbon emissions.