Is Alberta about to increase its carbon tax? -

Is Alberta about to increase its carbon tax?

And would it be the Harper government that precipitated it?


Alberta’s environment minister has apparently floated the possibility of increasing the province’s carbon tax to $40 per tonne. Questions abound and the Alberta government is apparently keen to explain that federal regulations are what would lead them to increase the levy.

The feds are about to release their own rules. The only way Alberta can avoid bowing to them is to enact provincial standards that are equally tough; or, better still, just a bit more stringent. This meets the current buzzword requirement: equivalency. To run its own environmental regime, a province must have a system that meets or exceeds federal targets. Then there’s the revenue thing. If there’s to be a bigger emissions penalty, Alberta damn well wants the cash pouring into the anemic local treasury, rather than the federal one.

So, similar to what was suggested on Tuesday, the federal Conservatives, having spent the last several months opposing the sort of cap-and-trade system they once supported, might now be responsible for precipitating the increase of a carbon price at the provincial level.

Thing is, Tzeporah Berman argues, $40 per tonne isn’t enough.

The reality is that you don’t really open up many more opportunities for innovation and reduction with anything under $40 per tonne. In order to truly change the economic playing field in favour of clean energy, it needs to progress to $100 or $150 over the next decade so that big investments such as carbon capture and storage start making sense economically. Currently, they don’t.


Is Alberta about to increase its carbon tax?

  1. I would agree except carbon capture doesn’t make sense technically or scientifically.

    • …or financially. The cost of ‘putative’ CC is well over $300 per ton.

  2. Governments love a carbon tax because it brings in more money. Oil companies don’t care because they pass the price on to the consumer. So it is basically a round-about way to tax us more.

    • Sure it is. They invented CC just to annoy and impoverish you and I.

    • Your point being? When you drive, you are consuming fossil fuels and pumping carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. Don’t you think you should pay for that?

      Increasing the cost of polluting will encourage people to pollute less. If gas prices become high due to a carbon tax, then the logical, the intelligent thing to do would be to reduce your reliance on gas. Buy a more fuel efficient vehicle, walk and bike to more places, or use mass transit.

      A truly smart person can avoid the extra costs of a carbon tax. Even smart corporations can avoid paying a carbon tax by upgrading and making their industrial processes more environmentally friendly. This is what happened in B.C. after the introduction of our carbon tax.

    • Oil companies don’t pass the cost onto consumers for carbon emitted in the process of producing the oil. That’s something very different than the carbon content of the fuel the consumer burns.

  3. They say nothing concentrates a man’s mind so much as the prospect of a hanging; or in this case a provincial govts as much as a potential loss of a major pipeline.

    When is someone( hint hint PWs) going to write a column pouting out Harper and the energy sector could have avoided much of this uncertainty and outright enmity with the enviro movement ( at least got the sensible ones like Bergman onside) by NOT playing a bizarre combo of keep away and demonize/ marginalize the enemy. Rather by adopting a proactive approach to CC and alternative energy right from the get go. Clearly they at least thought about it seriously at one time – at least up till the departure of Prentice.

    But water will always return eventually to its own level. As will incompetence and absence of real vision and leadership, when short term politics trumps everything else.
    These guys are reaping what they helped sow – it looks good on them. But unfortunately Canada itself has to suffer the consequences too.
    Roll on ’15 I say. Lets put this nightmarish collection of clowns behind us. Heck, I even wonder if some very important ABs aren’t starting to think the same way?

    • The main reason Alberta has been proactive with a tax is PR. Carbon capture as a cost effective CO2 reducer doesn’t exist, but it does have advertising value.

      • Carbon capture doesn’t make a great deal of sense. There are other ways of lowering emissions in Alberta, though. One is to use nuclear power for process heat.

        • I agree, arguably even better would be to displace the build up of less efficient power in developing countries. Carbon capture, solar, wind, and ethanol, they all might be worth researching but they aren’t competitive technologies.

          In my opinion most people who support them have a priori decided that solar etc are good things and believe we are causing a warming event because of that rather than the other way around because they aren’t solutions for a catastrophic scenario. I’ve really never been on board with a runaway warming trend yet working from it as a possibility the one key action would be to work with developing nations to take on the extra cost of building nuclear/gas rather than coal. Yet I’ve never heard that proposed. Ergo, virtually no-one is saying “here’s the problem, what are the solutions”. That’s probably why Bjorn Lomberg is so controversial. For most people who believe in either, the solutions are more important than the problem right now.

    • One of the mightiest arrows in any politicians quiver is good old fashioned salesmanship.

      • Too bloody true. Harper’s idea of salesmanship is to convince all the customers that opponents are.. radicals, adversaries, dupes of foreign vested interests, traitors, commies and all secretly liberal lackeys.

        Never once does it seem to occur to him to win over rational opponents… He’d rather cling to his loyal core, and cut everyone else off at the knees.

        The man couldn’t sell wood stoves to the backwoods of BC, without first alienating every creature that dared to live in his trees.

        • Yes, Harper Evil Nazi Bad.

          • You must be able to type that with your eyes closed by now…certainly it doesn’t require any mental output.

          • It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. ~Abraham Lincoln

            Thank you for removing all doubt.

    • Yep, the current Conservative government has acting in bad faith on the environment from the first day they were elected, and they wonder why everyone is opposing the tar sands and oil/bitumen pipelines as fiercely as they can.

      Would British Columbians oppose the Northern Gateway Pipeline so strenuously if the Harper government took environmentalists and scientists concerns seriously from the very start? I don’t think so.

      What really makes me shake my head about this whole thing is that they try to propagandize and say they are for “sustainable resource development” and they are good environmental stewards, but then they turn around and muzzle scientists, close the ELA, close the PEARL station, leave the UN drought convention, drop the Kyoto Accord, demonize “radical” environmental groups and First Nations claiming they are “foreign funded,” and name a climate change-denier creationist as the minister for science.

      The Conservative Party doesn’t seem to understand that actions speak louder than words, and their actions say they don’t care at all about the environment and they place a higher priority on the international oil companies who are actively destroying the environment and actively working to silence those speaking out against their polluting.

      • Harper Evil Nazi Bad Dictator Worse than North Korea.

        • Drink!

        • Nope, Harper is just stupid because he hasn’t figured out that when you demonize your opposition you make them more determined and powerful, and when you compromise and communicate and consult with your opposition you become stronger and more powerful.

          People think Harper is some sort of great political operative with Machiavellian political skills, but that isn’t true. He and the Conservative Party see the world as Us vs. Them and in black and white. But that isn’t true, we all love Canada and want what’s best for Canada, even “radical” environmentalists and First Nations.

          In reality the world is filled with shades of grey, and scientists, librarians, environmentalists and First Nations are not Harper’s or the Conservative Party’s enemies.

          But, when Harper muzzles and denounces these groups, he makes them his enemies. He turns people against him, by his actions and his attitude.

          • Yes, Harper Evil Nazi Bad Dictator.

          • Don’t mind Orson. When he can’t think of anything intelligent to say, he doesn’t know enough to keep quiet.

  4. FYI: The European carbon trading market prices carbon permits at under $10 per tonne.

    • So! Can’t we learn anything from their mistakes then?

      Personally i favour a CT that in the main funnels the money into a green tech or investment fund.[ which is after all what it is all about – getting ourselves off a carbon economic track and putting a price on environmental degradation]

      I’m not convinced the BC experiment of returning the tax in the form of lowered taxes has really worked[ big business seem to have been the main beneficiary, not ordinary TPs] all that well. And right now the offset programme looks shaky too at best.

      • Why can’t we just cut taxes rather than insist on the government spending it on projects of dubious value?

        I mean, a real, impactful carbon tax would raise tens of billions per year. Should we really spend that much on research initiatives?

        Corporations don’t exist; they are legal fictions. Workers, consumers and shareholders do.

        • How else would you hope to wean us off from a high carbon economy if not by a tax on carbon? If you believe that we need to make the change, and if you believe that economic levers or rather the market price signal is the way to achieve that goal.

          • I’m pro carbon tax, but opposed to linking it to spending on research, etc.

          • The neutral tax revenue option seems to be questionable in BC. What other options are there?

          • Why is a revenue neutral tax shift questionable? BC now has one of the lowest income tax regimes in Canada. Their economy seems not to have suffered any ill effects from the carbon tax, and importantly, the people of BC have come around to support it. Would the same be true of an onerous new tax that was, frankly, wasted on pet projects?

          • I’m not totally biased against the concept. But I hear grumbling from BC that the lions share of the tax returns are going to business rather than consumers/ citizens. It is of course the NDP pushing this, so I don’t know what to think about it. Have there been any credible independent assessments of the BC model?

          • I think that claim is without merit. And even if it were, you could reduce other taxes rather than corporate income.

          • B.C.’s carbon tax isn’t actually revenue neutral either, the government still pulls in quite a bit of extra money from it after the tax breaks and tax credits intended to make it revenue neutral have already been paid out.

  5. What? Alberta consider a “jobs killing killing carbon tax” that the Federal Conservatives would fight tooth and nail to protect Canadians? Ironically from the socialist hordes of the NDP?! If Alberta moves forward with this, I can hardly wait for the Federal Tory spin..