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.

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