An early olive branch, Ottawa approves Alberta’s carbon pricing plan
The Canadian government has approved the province of Alberta’s plan to price industrial pollution, the federal environment minister told Reuters, marking a rare point of agreement in the two governments’ fractious relations.
Home to 80 per cent of Canada’s oil production, the industry is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and is also struggling from a shortage of pipeline space.
The federal plan has upset the resource-rich western provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, which say it would harm the energy and agriculture sectors. Neither province elected a single Liberal in the October federal election.
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Alberta’s industrial carbon-pricing plan meets federal standards, but it does not include fuel, so a federal fuel charge will take effect on Jan. 1.
Most of the revenue will be returned to Albertans through rebates.
Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon said the province was pleased that Ottawa approved its industrial carbon plan. The province will fight to set its own policies in future, including through the courts, as federally scheduled carbon price increases take effect in coming years, he said in a statement.
Ottawa’s approval of Alberta’s plan is not surprising, Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada senior energy strategist, told Reuters.
“I think they’re trying to avoid a fight.”
Premier Jason Kenney’s plan, called Alberta’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction regulations (TIER), will charge $30 per tonne of emissions from industrial sectors such as oil and gas, electricity, cement and farming starting Jan. 1. It replaces a system put in place by Alberta’s New Democratic government, which was defeated in a spring election.
Stewart noted, however, that the plan is more favourable to less-efficient industrial sites because carbon-pricing is based on reduced emissions based on each facility’s past performance.