Alison Redford giveth and Alison Redford taketh away -

Alison Redford giveth and Alison Redford taketh away

The Alberta Premier’s nuanced position on carbon pricing


The Alberta Premier came to Ottawa and, surely to the delight of the Harper government, ripped Thomas Mulcair. Then she went and endorsed—or seemed to endorse—a carbon tax.

On the environment, Redford said she would like to see the federal government adopt a strategy similar to Alberta’s $15-per-tonne carbon levy on large industrial emitters that are unable to meet their greenhouse-gas reduction targets, with the cash then used to improve environmental outcomes. “We think that’s the right approach,” Redford said, when asked whether Ottawa should introduce a federal carbon levy on large emitters.

Alberta’s carbon tax of sorts has generated more than $300 million for a technology fund used to green operations and improve environmental performance. “The federal government needs to be supportive of that policy (setting a carbon price) in areas where it can actually make a difference to the outcome. Simply symbolically setting a price doesn’t actually achieve an outcome,” she added. “So I think it’s fine to set targets, I think it’s time to be supportive of sectors that are looking to try to reduce emissions and to be able to partner together on that.”

But Ms. Redford’s office now says that she wasn’t quite endorsing a national carbon tax.

Premier Alison Redford did not advocate for a national carbon tax as today’s PostMedia story implies. The Premier was clear that Alberta’s climate change actions to date—including the creation of a fund for clean technology projects—have been successful and are driving innovation. Clean technology initiatives are worthy of consideration as the federal government develops new greenhouse gas emission regulations for the oil and gas industry.

John Baird once bragged of plans to establish a clean technology fund with the proceeds of a $15-per-tonne carbon price, but the Harper government has since decided that any price on carbon is a carbon tax.

But then Ms. Redford also prefers her province’s carbon levy to a cap-and-trade system (another policy the Harper government used to support).

Redford, however, doesn’t believe a widespread cap-and-trade emissions reduction scheme is necessary or the best approach for the federal government, questioning whether it would actually be effective in reducing emissions. “The goal is not to do something as a PR stunt; it’s to actually do something that is going to make a difference to outcomes. It can be a price on carbon, it can be work on consumer policies, energy efficiency, dealing with greening the (electricity) grid, that kind of thing,” she said.

But then the Alberta NDP doesn’t think the province’s carbon levy is sufficient.

“The ad is extremely misleading with respect to Alberta’s environmental record. It says that we have put a price on carbon. What we have is a very low price put on carbon intensity emissions,” Mason said.


Alison Redford giveth and Alison Redford taketh away

  1. From what I know, a $15 carbon tax is pretty well useless. It might have been OK as a starting point (although I would never advocate starting so low) but unless the tax increases significantly, its impact is negligible. So I take it with a grain of salt when Alison Redford uses her carbon tax as an example of her good environmental stewardship

    • Yes, that level of carbon tax (and that model maintained at 12%) won’t drive the scale of change identified by the IPCC. In terms of funding technology change, $300M in a stand alone fund is $300 M. Wherry fails to note that, at least a couple years ago, half of the compliance was being achieved by offset trading. That’s tonnes of CO2e taken out of the air. Again, not on the scale to meet any appropriate target, but much more than “useless”.

    • Alberta’s carbon tax levy is currently over twice as large as the market-based European carbon price. How is a tax over twice as large as the European free market price useless?

      **European countries hand out free carbon permits like candy to protect favored industries, which has driven the market price for carbon to low levels as to make the carbon trading system in Europe a farce.

      **The European carbon trading system is also riddled with fraud, but that is a whole other issue.

  2. and in the meantime

    A group of Six Nations protesters has until the end of the month to pay
    $350,000 to the City of Brantford for protests in 2007-08.

  3. Of course, what Ms. Redford doesn’t mention is that Alberta’s carbon tax *is* a cap and trade scheme as well.

    If a company in Alberta reduces it’s emissions intensity (so not the total carbon it’s putting out, just the total carbon it’s putting out per unit of production) by 12%, it pays no tax. If it reduces it more than that, it can sell those extra percentage points to other companies.

    • What’s wrong with that?

      Isn’t it exactly what we’re asking car manufacturers to do … reduce gas consumption per unit distance?

      • What’s wrong with it is the trading bit. If the prices go high enough, it becomes valuable to make a front company that has ridiculous emissions intensity one year, and then improves that by 15% and sells the intensity credits to a much larger-scale polluter, which then doesn’t have to improve as much.

        • You are essentially describing the underlying basis for all carbon trading schemes. Efficiency permits companies to sells unused credits to companies that go over their limit, hence making energy efficiency profitable and inefficiency expensive. I agree a simple carbon tax would be simpler, but there are several examples of carbon trading worldwide. Whether they have any impact is a different matter.

        • The credits relate to the same volume of CO2e, and I think the baseline is based on the first three years of operations for a new facility. So it’s a pretty painful buy-in to game the system and nets out environmentally, even in the hypothetical scenario where the system is physically gamed. There’s also ex-post auditing with penalties and retroactive disallowances applicable if gaming is discovered.

  4. Cue the Lord Monckton-worshipping idiot brigade…

    • LOL

      Billy Bob should be along any minute now…probably delayed by sun spots. Tony is still getting his wonder boy suit on…buttons up the back you know…tricky.


        “Stephen Harper is going to win the next federal election. That’s a fact.”

        Why is he saying that? Because Warren thinks Harper can do the math and the others can’t. Warren Kinsella saying that.

        • Does he believe, by any chance that CC is a fraud too?

        • non-sequiter much?

  5. Oh look! More climate science fraud! Yet another climate scientist caught using one of Erik Karlsson’s hockey sticks.

    Remember when the corruption of someone in a position of authority caught changing data to get the results he wanted would have made news? Good times…now all we have is the Tactic of Official Silence…if we don’t report it, it doesn’t exist as news.

    Aaron, are you or anyone in your industry ever embarrassed by some of the stories you are required to suppress, overlook, and otherwise bury in the memory hole to keep foisting this climate change carbon tax farce on us?

    • I seem to remember you and your CC deniers cum skeptics blowing all your credibility over climate-gate – the final proof it was all a scam…guess you haven’t finished nailing it down yet!

      • Just so you know, climategate 3.0 has arrived

      • That’s ok, the rabbit-hole can always go deeper. The conspiracy never fails, it just needs a new layer.

    • “Remember when the corruption of someone in a position of authority caught changing data to get the results he wanted would have made news? Good times…now all we have is the Tactic of Official Silence…if we don’t report it, it doesn’t exist as news.”
      We still talking climate, or life under the Harper government?