Calls for doubling of levy on all pollution in Alberta
A Canadian environmental think tank wants the Alberta government to get tough on polluters by dramatically increasing penalties and increasing the price they pay for emitting carbon.
A new report by the Pembina Institute concludes that the province’s current approach will deliver less than one-third of the GHG reductions the Government of Alberta has committed to, but strengthening current policies could enable the province to meet its climate targets.
Responsible Action? An assessment of Alberta’s greenhouse gas policies provides a detailed evaluation of current regulations and financial incentives to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and identifies key opportunities for the Government of Alberta to strengthen its approach to climate change.
“Alberta was an early adopter of policies that could be used to drive greenhouse gas reductions, but those policies currently fall short of the province’s goal,” said Simon Dyer, policy director for the Pembina Institute and co-author of the report.
“Our analysis shows Alberta’s climate commitments are not out of reach — but to deliver on those commitments, the province must move beyond half-measures and good intentions by strengthening existing policies and focusing on results.”
Alberta has committed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 50 megatonnes (MT) below business as usual by 2020. The Pembina Institute’s assessment shows that the province will only cut emissions by up to 14 MT below business as usual by 2020 unless it implements significantly stronger measures.
The report outlines six key recommendations to strengthen current climate policies. The most important recommendations are to require a levy on all pollution from industry (not just 12 per cent of emissions), increase the price on pollution from $15 to $30 dollars per tonne, and to transition towards pricing every tonne of greenhouse gas pollution in the province, not just emissions from the largest industrial facilities.
While Alberta was the first jurisdiction in North America to apply a carbon price for large emitters, the Pembina Institute’s analysis finds this incentive has been far too low to adequately reduce pollution. Over the two decades from 1990 and 2009, Alberta’s greenhouse gas pollution increased dramatically (more than any other jurisdiction in North America), and the province is on track to continue that trend under current policies.
Economic modelling commissioned by the Pembina Institute in 2009 found that much higher carbon prices in Canada would still allow Alberta to maintain the strongest GDP growth in the country.
Currently, British Columbia’s carbon levy is double Alberta’s and applies to a broader portion of the economy, and the province’s economy remains strong relative to rest of Canada.
Increasing scrutiny of how Alberta is managing greenhouse gas pollution, particularly from energy production, means the pressure is growing for Alberta to demonstrate climate leadership and deliver on its promises to cut pollution — and this report highlights the priority actions Alberta could take to improve its performance.
“Alberta has an opportunity to change how the province is perceived, both in Canada and around the world, by strengthening its approach to reducing greenhouse gas pollution and more actively encouraging other jurisdictions to do likewise,” said Dyer.
“We look forward to working with the Government of Alberta to ensure that this province and our country as a whole can meet their climate commitments.”
About the Author (Author Profile)
Markham began his journalism career writing columns in the mid-1980s for Western People Magazine, then reported for a small Saskatchewan daily. He has spent most of his career in media and communications, likes to dabble in politics, was actively involved in economic development for many years, thinks that what goes on in the community is just as important as what happens provincially and nationally, and has a soft spot for small business (big business, not so much). Markham is a bit of a contrarian and usually has a unique take on the events of the day.