Exchanging tweets with Rona Ambrose

by Aaron Wherry

Earlier this afternoon, Rona Ambrose responded to this blog post with the following tweet.

Industry will always favour a carbon tax over emissions regulations: it dilutes costs & defers real action on environment.

I responded with a question.

So do you agree then that a regulatory approach will actually be costlier than a carbon tax or cap and trade?

Ms. Ambrose tweeted back.

Regs target industry change ie: new technology. Carbon tax merely raises revenue for govt: no certainty of environmental change

I asked another question.

Wouldn’t cap and trade provide for certainty and mitigate the impact of increased costs on consumers?

To that I added a link to this post by Stephen Gordon.

Ms. Ambrose hasn’t responded, but I’ll update this post if she does. I’ve also asked her office if she’d like to do an interview about environmental policy and carbon pricing. There is, indisputably, a debate to be had about greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and how governments should respond to those challenges. I’ve filed a standing request with the offices of Peter Kent and Joe Oliver if either (or both) want to sit down for an interview and I’m happy to chat with anyone who has an opinion on the matter.




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Exchanging tweets with Rona Ambrose

  1. //Wouldn’t cap and trade provide for certainty and mitigate the impact of increased costs on consumers?//

    Nope. With the global economic crisis, the carbon cap-n-trade market (in addition to be riddled with billions of dollars of fraudulent green projects) has collapsed, and the price of carbon permits has collapsed. The rising world oil price to which global natural gas prices are tied contractually, has made coal much less expensive than natural gas. And Europeans have begun burning coal again in record amounts.

    Freeing Alberta oil, would help lower world natural gas prices, which would make it more competitive with coal. Oil sands pipelines are an actual environmental plus, because they will help lower global natural gas prices.

    The European economy is likely to get far worse, and the price of carbon is likely to collapse even further, increasing the advantage of coal over natural gas in Europe.

    The European carbon reduction targets are about to be blown to smithereens because of this.

    • That should read “With the global economic crisis, the European carbon cap-n-trade market…has collapsed”

    • “Wouldn’t cap and trade provide for certainty …. ”

      The European Union’s climate commissioner demanded Wednesday that E.U. member states reach agreement before the end of the year on a stop-gap measure to tackle the virtual collapse of the bloc’s main instrument for cutting carbon emissions.

      The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, proposed on Monday to defer the auction of 900 million carbon allowances that would have been sold between 2013 and 2015, the first three years of the next phase of the E.U. Emissions Trading Scheme.

      “Our carbon market is delivering emissions reductions. But because of the oversupply in the market, the E.T.S. is not driving energy efficiency and green technologies strongly enough,” Ms. Hedegaard said. “This is bad for Europe’s innovation and competitiveness.”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/15/business/global/european-official-presses-for-action-on-carbon-program.html?_r=0

    • Is there any particular reason world gas prices are tied to the world oil price?

      You could also mention the reason the European Emissions trading system is in trouble is because govts gave the permits away; there are other ways of handling things.
      As for those billions of fraudulent green projects – what current ones are you talking about? The problems with the ones with Chinese factories for instance have been long known about, and i presume addressed.

      • Qatar and Russia are not stupid. It is a seller’s market, and they are going to insist on joule equivalency for oil and natural gas on world markets. Russia is the biggest oil producer and the biggest (or one of the biggest) natural gas exporters in the world, so they are extremely incentivised to insist on this.

        • So.. cheaper oil means cheaper gas because they’re both “energy”, and Russia and Qatar can somehow magically dictate energy prices.. yet somehow coal is immune to this.

    • Except that it’s obviously nonsense to suggest that world prices would be lowered by the addition of the small fraction of world production that the pipelines represent, so much as North American prices would be raised.

  2. So the party of free unfettered markets believes that a planned economy is best in some circumstances. You shouldn’t have people bailing into the boat while others are bailing out.

    • As the party of free unfettered markets, they believe full well that planned economies do not work and regulations are useless. They are merely working with their corporate cronies, to allow free markets to reign, and to remove government from managing the market.

      If government has no money, it has no hand to play in the game. They hold to the credo that ‘all taxes are evil’, therefore they cannot impose a “tax”, since it, according to ideology, punishes industry and entrepreneurs, or raises prices on goods at the consumer level.

      What’s left is to talk. And the only position they can take, then is to be the evil that is government, and impose regulations. They are being the government that they believe government to be. At the same time, they [can] pretend to be working on solving the problem.

      I know you understand this, I can read the irony in your post.

      So, no, their position does not stand up to reason and fact. It is a position of hysteria and ideology, blind to contradiction. This is why Rona Ambrose has no answers.

  3. I.E. “Centralized planning and market regulation are the best way to fight climate change. Carbon taxes just encourage industry to change without actually forcing them to change (through laws and regulation and central planning by government) through free market pressures that also happen to raise revenue for the government.”

  4. “Regs target industry change ie: new technology. Carbon tax merely raises revenue for govt: no certainty of environmental change”

    Ambrose doesn’t even bother with the spokespersons comments about the tax/revenue neutral aspects of a carbon tax.

    She also doesn’t bother to mention that regulation takes a long time, particularly if you allow industries to lobby/water your regs down to camel’s piss; as has already occurred with coal electricity generators ,and will almost certainly happen with the oil boyos.
    OTC Rona, weak or compromised regulation provides no certainty of change. What are the chances of strong or meaningful regs from this govt?

    How Harper’s govt has the brass ones to talk about deferring action on the environment and CC is simply beyond me.

  5. “: it dilutes costs & defers real action on environment.”

    Yes…until the cost of doing nothing and paying the tax becomes more onerous than actually changing. Really! Are we now down to explaining to a minister of the crown how free markets are supposed to work?

    • You seem surprised by that.

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