RELEASE: With Canada and Mexico on Board, Carbon Pricing Could Become a Reality Across North America with Expanded U.S. Action

Washington, D.C. — Carbon taxes and emissions trading systems, once considered political moonshots in the battle to combat carbon emissions, have found purchase in Canada, Mexico, and parts of the United States, raising the possibility that carbon pricing could span the continent.

The Center for American Progress released an issue brief on the state and trajectory of carbon pricing in North America—including the increased interest in carbon pricing from a diverse set of U.S. proponents—and the existing and possible interactions among pricing instruments.

“It is increasingly plausible that North America could see continentwide carbon pricing,” said Gwynne Taraska, CAP Associate Director of Energy Policy and co-author of the brief. “The gains made in Canada and Mexico are significant steps toward the goal of ensuring that carbon polluters bear the associated costs. While long a political nonstarter in the United States, carbon pricing has begun to be embraced by voices on both sides of the aisle as an efficient tool to curb carbon emissions and the disruptive effects of climate change.”

The brief discusses new developments in Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced a pan-Canadian minimum carbon price of 10 Canadian dollars, or CAD, per ton by 2018, with that amount rising to 50 CAD by 2022. In Mexico, a national tax on fossil fuels was implemented in 2014 and a yearlong cap-and-trade pilot program begins this month, setting the stage for a national emissions trading system in 2018.

In the United States, there are two established emissions trading systems, covering 30 percent of the U.S. economy. There has also been an uptick of interest in carbon pricing at the state level, in the private sector, and among conservative policy experts, making it look increasingly possible that carbon pricing will expand throughout the country.

While carbon pricing is not a panacea for climate change—it is important, for example, that pricing systems accurately reflect the costs of carbon pollution in order to meaningfully limit emissions—continentwide carbon pricing would give momentum to the global climate effort.

Click here to read the brief.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at  or 202.481.7141.