Posted on Feb 9, 2017

3 Reasons I Support a Price on Carbon

One of the questions that I am answering a lot lately is: Why a Carbon Price?  

I think that there are in fact many reasons why a carbon price makes sense for Alberta, but I will focus here on what I consider to be the top three.


1) It will help diversify our economy and create jobs.

Over the next 4 years, the carbon levy is expected to bring in 9.6 billion dollars. Every single penny of that money will be reinvested right here in Alberta for things Albertans overwhelmingly have said they want.  Energy Efficiency programs, large scale renewable energy projects, public transit, oil sands innovation, green technology, and residential solar are only a few of the possibilities.  These investments will create jobs in the construction industry, in new technology sectors, and in tourism, to name a few.  For too long Alberta has relied on one industry for our economic growth. If we want to avoid recessions and job losses in the future we must diversify, and the carbon levy will help us do that.


2) It will help us reduce our Greenhouse Gas emissions.

I care deeply about the future of this planet. I want my grandchildren to have the same connection with nature and the outdoors that I did as a child.  I want them to have fresh water and clean air.  Climate change is a real threat that the world has agreed we must work on together.  People tell me all the time- “but Robyn, Alberta produces so little of the global emissions that anything we do here will make no difference.”  Now, it is true that our total emissions are a small drop in the global bucket, but the fact is that per capita we are nearly the worst emitters on the planet.  Plus, as an energy producing jurisdiction our commitment to reducing our emissions makes a big statement.  We simply cannot ask emerging nations to do something if we are not doing something.  Pricing carbon in BC allowed them to reduce their emissions 16% between 2008 and 2013.  In the same period, the rest of Canada’s emissions went up by 3%.  The way we are using the revenues here will allow us to reduce our emissions even more than that.  Also, even with Donald Trump in the White House, some American jurisdictions have moved forward with Carbon pricing.  California, and the RGGI which covers 9 North Eastern states are examples.  Our plan is being noticed – at a recent Pacific North West Economic Region Forum I attended state representatives from Washington and Oregon were very interested in our plan.  Alberta has always been a leader, and we must lead on climate.


3) It helps our Oil and Gas sector remain viable in an increasingly competitive world.

There is no question our Oil and Gas sector is the best in the world at what they do. But let’s face it- years of boosterism on behalf of Conservative governments with no action on climate change only served to tarnish our reputation.  In addition to this, during this time the United States quickly went from being our biggest customer to being our biggest competitor.  Our Climate Leadership plan is designed to ensure our trade exposed industry innovates, improves efficiency, and reduces emissions to remain globally competitive.  The way the plan is designed incents companies to produce oil with less emissions by using an output based allocation system.   Basically, if you are in the top 25% of producers you are rewarded by paying less.  The fact of the matter is that the majority of oil producers in Alberta are on board with this.  They asked for it.  They know that getting our oil to market relies on our reputation.  And this helps our reputation. You aren’t ever going to convince everybody, but there is no question our climate leadership plan has helped already.


Those are the main reasons I believe a Carbon price is necessary. Diversification, emissions reduction, and competitiveness.  This is smart policy that was developed by an expert panel in consultation with thousands of Albertans.  I am proud of our Climate Leadership Plan and I hope that over time Albertans will be too.


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