carbon tax

“Rational, Drama-Free Conversations as Energy Producers Can Be Had,” Says Alberta Environment Minister in Paris

Alberta Minister of Environment Shannon Phillips says her province is being celebrated on the international stage for its climate leadership.

Alberta has put in place a robust set of policies and we are now leaders in the country and on the continent in terms of action,” she told reporters in Paris on Wednesday.

The province of Alberta is participating in the Canadian delegation to the Paris climate talks alongside many other provinces including B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

Philips says when it comes to its international reputation, Alberta has “turned the page.”

She added Alberta’s positive reception in Paris can be attributed to the new NDP government’s change in tone.

We’ve demonstrated that it can be done: that rational, drama-free conversations as energy producers can be had and that leadership can come out of that.”

B.C., Canada’s Carbon Tax Champion, Criticized for Lack of Climate Leadership at COP21 in Paris

British Columbia has long been celebrated for implementing one of North America’s first — and the world’s most successful — carbon tax regimes.

Yet at the ongoing COP21 climate talks in Paris, Premier Christy Clark is getting a lot of flack for her province’s lack of climate leadership.

Clark’s efforts to develop a major liquefied natural gas (LNG) export industry and her freezing of the province’s carbon tax in 2012 shows just how far B.C. is from being a climate leader, according to Torrance Coste, member of the Canadian Youth Delegation attending the climate summit.

Last week a panel of industry and environmental experts appointed by Clark to review the province’s climate action found B.C. will not meet its own target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions one third by 2020.

I’m fairly disappointed with what [Christy Clark] is bring forward as part of B.C.’s new climate leadership model,” Coste said. “It’s not building enough on what we’ve done in the past.”

Alberta Climate Announcement Puts End to Infinite Growth of Oilsands

Alberta Climate Change Announcment

The days of infinite growth in Alberta’s oilsands are over with the Alberta government’s blockbuster climate change announcement on Sunday, which attracted broad support from industry and civil society.

This is the day that we start to mobilize capital and resources to create green jobs, green energy, green infrastructure and a strong, environmentally responsible, sustainable and visionary Alberta energy industry with a great future,” Premier Rachel Notley said. “This is the day we stop denying there is an issue, and this is the day we do our part.”

Notley and Environment & Parks Minister Shannon Phillips released a 97-page climate change policy plan, which includes five key pillars.

The First Thing Canada Can Do in Paris is Admit Why UN Climate Talks Have Failed for Two Decades

Mark Jaccard is professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University.

The other day I heard an environmental advocate argue that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needed to make an ambitious commitment at the UN Paris climate summit (COP 21) to atone for all the “climate fossil” awards won by our previous prime minister. I’m not so sure.

Remember when newly elected President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize? He hadn’t yet done anything. Apparently the Nobel committee bestowed the award simply because he was not George W. Bush. In the same vein, Trudeau will be welcomed because he is not Stephen Harper.

I am not saying, of course, that Trudeau should just go to Paris and smile. But to make a real contribution, he will need to be brutally honest about why UN negotiations have failed for over two decades and equally honest about why Canada’s emission reduction efforts have also continuously failed.

Oil and Gas Industry Publicly Supports Climate Action While Secretly Subverting Process, New Analysis Shows

A new report recently released by InfluenceMap shows a number of oil and gas companies publicly throwing their support behind climate initiatives are simultaneously obstructing those same efforts through lobbying activities.

The report, Big Oil and the Obstruction of Climate Regulations, comes on the heels of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a list of climate measures released by the CEOs of 10 major oil and gas companies including BP, Shell, Statoil and Total.

According to InfluenceMap the initiative is an attempt by leading energy companies to “improve their image in the face of longstanding criticism of their business practices ahead of UN COP 21 climate talks in Paris.”

The big European companies behind the OGCI…will come under ever greater scrutiny, as the distance between the companies’ professed positions and the realities of the lobbying actions of their trade bodies grows ever starker,” InfluenceMap stated in a press release.

Alberta’s Climate Consultations: The Good, The Bad and The Downright Crazy

Much of the country is understandably pre-occupied with Monday’s federal election. But while we have all been watching the national drama unfold, something monumental happened in Alberta.

In a nutshell: big coal is pushing for renewable energy and big oil is re-iterating its push for a carbon tax.

Close to 500 individuals (including at least one alien — more on that to come), companies and NGOs submitted proposals to Alberta’s Climate Change Advisory Panel (chaired by University of Alberta economics prof Andrew Leach) about the kind of policies they think the new government should introduce to address spiking greenhouse gas emissions.

The significance of this for Alberta’s climate politics cannot be overstated. After years of stalling or stifling meaningful conversations, the province has now pulled off one of the country’s most important and interesting climate consultation processes.

The submissions, now accessible online, largely consist of the classic combo of recommendations from the usual suspects: phasing out coal-fired power plants, incentivizing renewable energy sources and introducing a proper carbon tax.

But there were also some fairly surprising sources of support for such recommendations.

Conservatives ‘Had No Intention’ of Dealing with Climate Change: Mark Jaccard

For more than two decades, Mark Jaccard has been penning “report cards” about Canada’s environmental track record. The results haven’t been pretty.

Jaccard, a veteran professor in Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management, notes his annual evaluations were harnessed in the mid-2000s by Stephen Harper (then serving as federal opposition leader) as arguments for why the Conservatives deserved a shot at governing the country.

Those report cards were used as “a way of saying ‘look how incompetent the Liberals are, they haven’t done anything on climate, we’re not going to achieve Kyoto but let us get into power and we will set a new target in 2020 and implement regulations immediately to achieve that target,’” Jaccard recalls.

The Conservatives eventually formed a minority government in 2006 and became the majority government after the 2011 election.

Jaccard’s latest report card, released on October 6, concludes the Conservative Party has since “implemented virtually no policies that would materially reduce emissions” despite making significant emissions pledges for 2020 and 2050.

Unlikely Conservatives Join Fight for Ontario’s Carbon Tax

A small, conservative movement is growing in Ontario to “reset the conversation” around carbon pricing and bring the centre-right back to an originally-conservative position, one in support of a market-based approach to fighting climate change. But the movement faces an uphill battle.

It’s very ironic — the idea of carbon pricing, came more from the right than the left originally,” Mark Cameron, executive director for Canadians for Clean Prosperity, and former policy director to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, told DeSmog Canada.

There are well known conservative economists who endorsed carbon taxes for decades.”

You don’t need to feel alone, there are a number of people coming into this tent,” said Chris Ragan, chair of the Ecofiscal Commission, associate professor at McGill University and research fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute.

Those hoping for a reset will soon see how the Ontario Progressive Conservative party engages on the topic when the governing Liberals introduce a cap-and-trade plan in the near future.

Climate Summit Marks Attitude Shift in Alberta

Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips

This article is authored by Binnu Jeyakumar and originally appeared on the Pembina Institute's blog.

The days of denial are over,” said Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, kicking off the 2015 Alberta Climate Summit held last week in Edmonton. She was sending a message that Alberta’s attitude and commitments around climate change are changing.

The summit focused on exploring viable options for progress on climate change, with the participation of stakeholders from across the spectrum. More than 300 people filled the room, representing the oil and gas industry, the electricity sector, First Nations, unions, environmental groups, municipalities and the provincial government. The excitement was palpable as participants discussed both the reasons to take action and the opportunities now available.

The summit explored policy solutions in several areas, including carbon pricing, renewable electricity and energy efficiency. If you want more context on climate policy in Alberta, Pembina’s backgrounder from August is worth a look.

Here’s Why Canada Needs Federal Carbon Pricing Leadership

Despite the federal Conservative government’s seven-year attack on carbon pricing as a “job-killing carbon tax,” Canada is actually making progress provincially on pricing carbon pollution.

Without any direction from the federal government, Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and recently Ontario have all introduced systems that require polluters to pay for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions they produce (as we’ve pointed out elsewhere in this series, those systems have had varying success).

But without an overarching carbon pricing system there is only so much the provinces can accomplish. 

There’s nothing stopping the federal government from attempting to help provinces and territories strengthen and expand their existing GHG programs,” Katie Sullivan, North America policy and climate finance director at the International Emissions Trading Association, said.

Ottawa could provide model rules, methodologies, guidance, tools and centralized infrastructure and architecture for a variety of program elements,” she said. “The federal government could play a valuable ‘enabling’ role.”

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