This article explains that the federal Conservatives’ climate-change plan will utilize a type of low-carbon savings account whereby individuals accrue points based on their purchase of hydrocarbon-based fuel and then use those points to purchase “greener life” items such as bicycles or a transit pass. In an associated commentary published the same day and entitled Conservatives’ new carbon plan would provide incentives to burn more fuel, Campbell Clark argues that the plan would actually encourage fuel consumption and cost the individual taxpayer more because some of the proposed rebate would go to business rather than individuals.

Getting Started

Introduction to the article (perhaps by having everyone read it)

The Conservatives have long attacked the Liberal carbon tax as just that – an additional tax on the average Canadian – without explaining how those funds are to be returned to the people as rebates at tax time. The Tories recently defeated a proposal at their policy meetings to acknowledge that climate change is a real and present danger. Leader Erin O’Toole’s proposed carbon tax plan has come as a shock to many Conservatives who see it as a betrayal of their platform. Critics have jumped on this proposed plan offered by O’Toole, claiming that this “rewards programme” approach will actually encourage greater fuel consumption and cost taxpayers more. This lesson will have the students consider the proposed plan and determine whether they consider it to be a viable alternative to the Liberal plan.

Subject Area(s) covered

World issues, environmental studies, politics, economics, consumer education

New Terms to explain


Materials Needed

Access to the articles and the Internet

Study and Discussion Activity

Key things students can learn from this lesson

  • An understanding of the basics of the Conservative carbon tax plan
  • The differences between the Conservative and Liberal plans
  • The basic costs of the carbon-pricing plans.

Action (here’s how we’ll do it)

  • Begin the lesson by asking the students to explain what is involved in a carbon tax and how it is intended to address climate change.
  • Explain to the students that, after a long wait, the Conservative party is now putting forward its own carbon tax plan.
  • With this understanding established, pair up the students and have them read the two articles.
  • Reconvene a short plenary session to allow the students to seek needed clarification of what they have just read.
  • Once this has been done, inform the pairs that they are to compare this Conservative approach with that of the Liberals and to decide which they think is the better approach and why.
  • In order to do this comparison, the pairs will have to access information concerning the Liberal plan which can be found at the following website:

Consolidation of Learning

  • Once the students have completed their research and discussion, reconvene the class and have the pairs give their report and respond to any questions or comments.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria

  • The students will be able to explain the differences between the two carbon tax plans and be able to state an informed opinion about which they believe to be better.

Confirming Activities

  • The students should submit a brief written assignment in which they outline which plan they support, giving reasons for their choice.

Helpful Internet Searches

Activities to do together

  • The students could explore how other countries are addressing the issue of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The students could explore other alternatives to a carbon tax and explain how they would work.