December 04, 2015

Albertans drunk on fuzzy feelings need a sober look at carbon tax impacts

Paige MacPhersonAlberta CTF Director

(This op-ed by Paige MacPherson, Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, was published in the Financial Post on Thursday, December 3, 2015.)

Alberta’s new broad-based carbon tax is a tax on everything that moves.

It will raise the price of gas and home heating, costing Alberta families an estimated $300 to $600 per year.

That will rise to over $900 per year for the average family by 2030. Some can expect rebates, but we have little idea what that will look like.

The price of clothing, food and everything transported will also increase. Shutting down coal-fired electricity plants and subsidizing green energy companies (corporate welfare by a friendlier name) will raise electricity prices. The province will lose investment, and rural communities will be hit hard.

Every policy must be measured on its impacts. It’s crucial to weigh the impacts of the carbon tax on Albertan families, businesses and rural communities, compared to the impacts the carbon tax could have on global climate change.

Let’s rely on the sunniest of predictions for reducing Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The government-commissioned report states, “implementation of our full policy framework … would roughly stabilize emissions, by 2030, just above current levels at approximately 270 (megatonnes).”

The report notes we produced 267 megatonnes in 2013. The idea is to stop our emissions from growing, but let’s be clear: that is three megatonnes more than we produced in 2013.

Canada contributes 1.65 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions – nothing compared to big emitters China and the U.S. – according to recently released World Resources Institute data for 2012. (It was also recent revealed that China has been underreporting its coal consumption by up to 17 per cent.)

Of Canada’s emissions, Environment Canada says oil-rich Alberta contributed 36.8 per cent in 2013.  

Using the predictions in Alberta’s climate report, under a carbon tax we’ll increase our emissions by 1.1 per cent (from 2013 levels) by 2030. So after 13 years of the carbon tax, we’ll have increased global emissions by 0.007 per cent, versus an increase of one tenth of a percent if we had no carbon tax.

That’s it.

It’s like arguing whether you should use a shot glass or an eye-dropper to fill a swimming pool.

Either way we’ll have done virtually nothing to reduce global climate change. But a carbon tax will have certainly made Albertans poorer.

In the best-case scenario, after 13 years of Albertans each paying thousands in carbon taxes, we’ll kick out 50 megatonnes less than we would otherwise.

Meanwhile, China will increase world emissions by 58 times that amount in that same period.

Put another way: China increases its emissions by that same amount every three and a half months.

It was reported that Premier Notley was listening to Ontario advisers when crafting Alberta’s energy policy. (Remember when Ontario was a "have" province?)

In 2009, then-Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty introduced the Green Energy Act, promising a new green economy, lush with jobs and opportunity.

Four years later, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced – with Al Gore at her side, no less – the shutdown of coal-fired power plants.

Since then, Ontario’s electricity rates have skyrocketed. Between 2010 and 2015, on-peak electricity prices rose by 77 per cent.

A 2015 Ontario Chamber of Commerce survey showed one in 20 Ontario businesses expect to close their doors in the next five years due to increased electricity prices.

Green energy subsidies have been a disaster.

Wind and solar provided less than four per cent of Ontarians’ power in 2013, but comprised 20 per cent of the total direct electricity costs portion of electricity bills paid by Ontarians.

Since 2006, Ontarians have dished out $1.9 billion in green energy subsidies, which didn’t have the magical job creation powers taxpayers were promised.

Instead, they were classic corporate welfare: over 90 per cent of the subsidies were given to just 11 wealthy companies.

The Alberta government also seems keen to funnel revenue into green energy subsidies. Corporate welfare lost Alberta billions of dollars in the 80s and 90s and is no laudable goal.

Don’t buy the spin. This carbon tax is anything but revenue neutral. Thankfully, that’s been pointed out by experts. Revenue neutral means the government gives all of the revenue back to Albertans in tax cuts.

Taxing Albertans and spending it on social programs and corporate welfare is just plain old taxing and spending.

The negative impact that the carbon tax will have on Albertan families, businesses and rural communities far outweighs the infinitesimal impact on global climate change.

We may be drunk on fuzzy feelings right now, but we need to sober up and face the facts.


Rachel Notley's Alberta NDP just announced a $3 billion a year carbon tax.
SIGN THE PETITION telling them to cancel this job-killing tax at

READ Ezra Levant's bestselling books debunking environmentalist propaganda against the energy industry:
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commented 2015-12-08 18:35:39 -0500
Taxed to serfdom! Private property is on the way out and we shall be forced into sustainable developement houses and exist like tax laying chickens, Trudeau foundations/Suzuki (creepy lookin bug)foundation/etc all tax free, however the pions if receive inheritance you pay half to facist Union owned government! Jailed all! Oh! Can’t do that now the law are their camp enforcers and wardens. Merry Christmas!
commented 2015-12-05 21:45:08 -0500
Sorry DJ, I didn’t notice I crossed the letters. mea culpa.
commented 2015-12-05 14:35:11 -0500
BTW the normal climatic conditions for Alberta over the last 2 million years is sheet ice between 2 and 3 kilometres thick. I’m glad we’re warmer than usual, and hope it will continue. If history has shown us anything it’s that the cycles will continue and the ice will return. It may start next year, it may start in 10,000 years, but the walls of ice will return. And when it does everything mankind has done will be scraped aside and the outcrops of the oilsands once again scraped and scattered across the land.
commented 2015-12-05 14:30:09 -0500
JD Oats – well put.

Mark David Johnson – I don’t know whether you’re a user of the “there’s a consensus” argument, but can you point to a falsifiable theory that underlies the belief that raising the level of CO2 in the atmosphere to 10% of historic levels will be harmful? I’ve asked a number of people for the falsification criteria (which is necessary for any scientific theory) but all I’ve received in turn are expressions of faith, either that CO2 is evil (to truncate the argument) or that The Scientists must be believed, with the certainty that Catholics claim for the Pope.
commented 2015-12-05 13:23:01 -0500
MARK DAVID JOHNSON – no worries, I see you’re beseiged; however, the matter of CO2 is not a matter of opinion. It’s a scientific fact that it’s not a pollutant. This is why critics like myself of the whole AGW find people like yourself to be religious about this topic—you actually ignore well established facts in the name of your beliefs, no unlike creationists. The carbon cycle is very well understood, and has been understood for over a century, yet you wish to now call the most essential element to all life on earth a pollutant because of some ill-founded belief perpetuated by the likes of Al Gore. Anyways, have a great weekend, along with all the other posters here!
commented 2015-12-05 10:27:49 -0500
If there is such a thing as global warming, then it can’t be because of CO2. CO2 rising, if it is, would be a response to rising temps. I would suggest that if temps are rising then it may be radio waves (microwaves) that are the cause. Just consider the rapid rise in the use of cell phones and internet usage in the past 15 – 20 years. We are “cooking or nuking” all the water vapor in the atmosphere. Just food for thought. But it is so much easier to put down Shell or Exon than Microsoft or ATT or Bell.
commented 2015-12-05 09:54:53 -0500
Mark David Johnson

CO2 is not a pollutant. It is an essential trace gas in the atmosphere of which about 97% isn’t even make made, and a gas which all life depends on. It is also near historical lows. The oceans largely control how much CO2 is in the atmosphere, not man, as it rolls over about every five years.
commented 2015-12-05 02:41:04 -0500
Sorry DJ, I can’t respond to every single post on here. That said some of what you say has some merit though CO2 is a pollutant. Just because we exhale some doesn’t mean all sources of it are okay in any amount. Just like all natural things aren’t necessarily ally good for you. Hell , people have died from drinking too much water. I am interested in some of your numbers, so I will look, though I think my numbers and yours will be only slightly different.

As for the rest, even if you don’t agree with CO2 as a pollutant or think Alberta really doesn’t matter in terms of pollution, you’d still be wrong to think Alberta doesn’t have to do something to change its image if you want people to keep buying your oil.

Further, other industries are hurt by the lack of environmental policies with respect to pollution. Like it or not, you have to change if you want to stay in business.

It has been a pleasant change with this article as there has been decidedly less name calling and vitriol (though there’s still some) . And much more intelligent conversation than normal for the Rebel.

Anyways, I’m out on this article. I only post on here when I’m bored and in between things.

If I had more time I’d carefully examine your points and respond. But hoping no one would refute me? That’s hilarious. My entire reason for posting on here is to increase the knowledge level. Because if I post something contrary, maybe just maybe someone will post a new argument that I haven’t seen before and we can both learn something. Though with all the back slapping and “this article supports my worldview therefore it must be right” that goes on here, I don’t have much faith in reasoning with people here. But it’s fun nonetheless.
commented 2015-12-05 01:32:35 -0500
Bravo dj very well done my guess is our friend was hoping no one would dispute him afterall “the science is settled”.
commented 2015-12-05 01:12:48 -0500
Mark—you haven’t refuted a thing (I’d say you’re lazy, but you got smashed), other than using a link to the EPA—a legislated body (Obama couldn’t get his insanity passed through congress so he’s legislating through the EPA as his legacy). I gave you numbers—independent of your precious EPA (which is not independent). I provided you real numbers yet you skirted over them, in fact ignored them. By the way your link doesn’t support anything you said. I suppose it’s something you sought retroactively yet refused to read. You said: “As an FYI, Canada contributes the same amount of carbon per capita as the US. Which is roughly four times the China rate.”—I proved you wrong here; the numbers do not bear out. Do you like using falsifications to try to augment your opinion? Thanks for the link—China produces roughly 30% of the worlds emissions; according to your link we’re not even on the radar. Your links. Own it. I stand by my original point: carbon, CO2, and naturally produced compounds thereof (e.g. aragonite, calcite) and gaseous CO2, are toxically benign, and naturally essential. Until someone produces an argument that CO2 is unnecessary to the continued progression of life on this planet, they are basically nothing but ill-educated half-wits. PROVE me wrong, Mark. Prove to me that life exists without carbon and the carbon-cycle. If we eliminated all carbon tell me what might happen (hint: you wouldn’t be able to eat). Conversely: if you agree that carbon is essential but may have toxic atmospheric levels, then prove to me the upper threshold where carbon is toxic ? You realize you breath out CO2 right? Quel Suprise! Carbon is you…you are carbon! As Modest Mouse stated…ironically as it turns out…‘someday you will die and somehow someone’s going to steal your carbon’ -as I said, “ironically”, as I’m sure the reference is to fossil fuels, however, I would co-opt those very words and say it’s better applied to a carbon tax-stealing carbon: stealing money. Somehow someone’s going to steal it.

(p.s. read up on the Late Ordovician Period)
commented 2015-12-05 01:02:38 -0500
Mark David, the carbon tax is the NDPST
commented 2015-12-05 00:16:05 -0500
Mark please tell me why progressives think getting the government to do more is somehow doing anything? How about you get off your ass and do something about it yourself before you criticize us.
commented 2015-12-05 00:13:37 -0500
Mark when it is a real problem we will come up with solutions. And taxes will not solve anything. What part of that don’t you get?
commented 2015-12-04 21:31:10 -0500
If any of thus global warming junk science held any water, why do all the elitist assholes fly in jets all over the world to tell all of us of there latest decision. I mean they can forecast weather for thirty years in the future but they can’t figure out skype. Spielberg tells me about dirty oil from a fucking helicopter . Alberta population what 3-3.5 million poĺlutes more than who? Fuck reaĺly who does this reporting. New york city alone just with vehicles on the road would be ten times alberta. What sane person believes this bull? Obama pollutes more flying to fundraisers than we could in our lifetimes
commented 2015-12-04 19:27:36 -0500
I’m aware, you’ll notice in my original post I used CO2. but it takes longer to type.
The taxes may have the wrong benefit (according to you), but it’s either a carbon tax or PST. Pick your poison.
Deforestation is a problem. So is the beef industry. But just because there are other problems or other people are worse or whatever other excuse you have, as I said in my original post, that’s still not a reason to do nothing.
If you can convince the government to do more for trees and your other suggestions, do that. But don’t stop something that might help because you think something else is a problem too.

There’s ad hoc arguments that because other things are problems aren’t doing anyone any favors except making you feel superior.

I’m going to say the same thing I’ve said in other places. If you’re going to criticize you better be doing something constructive in the same arena. You guys are so good at not doing anything by pointing at other problems yet you won’t fix a single one of any of the problems you point at.
commented 2015-12-04 19:27:07 -0500
I agree that the petro industry in Alberta has had an ISO14000 free run too long, yes Alberta has to clean up this industry – but we will not do it taxing people who rely on its products – that will do nothing to stop the particulate and toxic emissions in the air and ground water. If you know people who farm or homestead around Rimbey or in new gas development fields you are aware of the environmental and health risks of toxic pollution, spills, leaks, flaring etc. – but none of this has anything to do with CO2 or the shaky theories of climate change – this is hard core toxic pollution – when we get that taken care of maybe then will have time to indulge urban paranoids who like to chase CO2 molecules around the atmosphere pretending its a pollutant.
commented 2015-12-04 19:21:30 -0500
Mark you cannot adapt to heavy socialism , nor should anyone have to, the socialists will just take more and more, there is no adapting to that. ANd when the social programs are starved for money you will finally wake up MAYBE!
commented 2015-12-04 19:14:15 -0500
Oh and mr. Johnston so we keep this discussion honest it is not carbon we are talking about in this taxation scheme, it is sublimate carbon as a gas – CO2 to be exact. CO2 is undisputedly plant foo , regardless of the source, plants consume it and emit oxygen compounds – if there is any increase in CO2 perhaps my having a morning shower is not the gratest cause, perhaps the biomass is not consuming or being allowed to consume the CO2 being produced – in that case IF you believe the GHG/AGW climate theories perhaps the place to start is with tropical deforestation – as a CO2 sink Canada’s vast boreal forest is the world’s CO2 scrubber – so is agriculture – I think these taxes have the wrong aims, and benefit the wrong people and do nothing to impact climate in any meaningful way.
commented 2015-12-04 19:05:57 -0500
Bill, I literally have the same qualifications as you… and do the same job lol. I know the numbers are modeled and are estimates. But they’re the same numbers used in this article so I figured that was fair game.

End of the day, Alberta needs to clean up it’s game if it wants to play ball with the rest of the world (sell oil). Saying “I’m not going to change because I can’t prove the numbers are accurate” is still not going to help. Bill, I do have to say, you’re the one person on here that actually makes an intelligent argument.

The problem is Albertans and Conservatives are AGAINST all kinds of things and will go to all kinds of lengths to NOT DO something. But they’ll literally do nothing to solve the problem. In this case, even if you don’t think Alberta’s pollution is a problem (I think per capita it’s still a problem), Alberta is being shut out of markets because of its refusal to do anything about its pollution. You guys can stick your heads in the sand and spout all the anti-climate rhetoric you want, but it is not going to fix the problem.
commented 2015-12-04 18:53:17 -0500
Mark David Johnson commented – “Canada contributes the same amount of carbon per capita as the US. Which is roughly four times the China rate.”

As a engineer working in statistical process control most of my working career, I can tell you that the numbers you regurgitate are not arrived at in any provable mathematical way – tonnes of emitted carbon is speculative, projected and not based in any empirical measurement system – the way these figures are arrived at is not actuarial but subjective – the math version of computer modeling using incomplete or speculated inaccurate input data. In other words, useless as a reliable measurement instrument.

I would no sooner pay a service fee based on bad math than a tax bill – but there are fools sho will, that does not make it good math or honest dealing.
commented 2015-12-04 18:13:37 -0500
You guys are funny. Here are the numbers I used:

Everyone needs to do more to battle CO2. Just because lots of things contribute to CO2 doesn’t mean that we should just do more of it. Alberta is already the world’s leading per capita polluter. And yet the industry that accounts for most of the pollution in Alberta, represents only about 7% of jobs in Alberta (including spin-off jobs).

No one is saying don’t product oil, they’re not even saying reduce emissions at this point. They’re saying let’s not try to pollute anymore. The very point in this article is that the carbon tax will stop carbon from growing at the 1400% increased rate.

I’m neither a half-wit nor an idiot. I’m just explaining the actual numbers and saying why the logic used here is stupid.

Even the “we have to eat” argument by Bravo is not accurate. 7% of jobs in Alberta, not a big number rely on the oil and gas industry. There are 93% of the other jobs still available and growing. Oil is a dying industry. Clinging to it, denying that it’s a problem, and getting mad at everyone who is trying to create jobs by looking into the future isn’t going to help anyone.

Alberta, being the most carbon polluting territory on the planet, needs a makeover. It’s that single statistic that is ruining the chances for expanding the industry. It’s why the US blocked the pipeline. It’s why Europe bans oil imports from Alberta.
You want to sell your oil? You better do something to fight the carbon or no one’s going to buy it, regardless of your reasons to not (it’s too small, we don’t matter, others pollute more etc). Slowly but surely if Alberta doesn’t come into the 21st century the market for their oil will dry up, and you’ll all be left holding the bag. The market for your oil is already shrinking.

It’s capitalism to adapt is it not? So adapt. What’s really funny, is that the energy industry (the one everyone on here is saying is getting killed by the tax) is the one championing it and is glad they’re getting the tax. Further, the increased costs are going to be more than offset for most Albertans by the federal income tax cut. So in reality you’ll have a few hundred dollars more per year, a healthier oil industry, a better image on the world stage and your argument against this is: I DON’T WANNA, LEFTIES ARE BAD AND I’M A CONSERVATIVE.
commented 2015-12-04 18:04:31 -0500
Man made global warming is the biggest hoakes ever perpetrated on mankind. Climate change occurred long before industrialization and man’s use of fossil fuels. Only the left is so gullible to pull this crap off.
commented 2015-12-04 18:00:40 -0500
Given the science behind the “Need” for such a tax is dubious at best, this is an unjustified across the bord increase in the cost of living that will impact low income families the most. I say the climate commies who use bad weather as an evcuse for broad plant taxes ought to reall go whole hog and double or triple the carbon tax rate to reflect a presumed negative carbon output – that way everything that is sold on shelves at the supermarket, every good bought and the cost to heat large homes will become painful for the upscale liberal jackasses who buy into this crap.

Stick these taxes on the core lib-left constituency – we will soon see their support for loopy climate science and eco taxes drop when it directly impacts their “comfort” – and we all know how the smug left passionately guard their own comfort at the expense of others.
commented 2015-12-04 17:12:58 -0500
@ Mark David Johnson commented 3 hours ago
Should I explain math to you?
The increase would be 1400% more without the carbon tax using your own numbers.

So your answer is: even though Alberta contributes more per capita of carbon than anyone else, they shouldn’t do anything because other countries pollute more total? That’s the dumbest reason I’ve ever heard to not do anything.
I’m not going to fix it because other people aren’t as bad as me, but since there are more other people they should change instead of me. Seriously, WTF kind of logic is that?

The logic?

One must eat.

To heck with all the hoopla – open the taps.

Plant more trees and stop worrying about that fake carbon problem – after all it is a Strong invention (may he rot in hell and may soros soon follow)

Tell China and India to get with the program – in the meantime it is time for Alberta to tell Canada and the provincial dippers to eff off.

That is sound logic – if people do not like it round them up and dump them in Toronto – a good place for them to stay – we do not need them west of the Ont / Man border – in fact we do not want them.


In the meantime the east buys blood oil and finances terror at the expense of their own countrymen – typical easterners – no jobs for any of them if they come west. In fact kick their asses back where they came from as well.

And you can join them Marky boy.

If it was 45 below and you were broke down on the highway – out of cell phone coverage – I would simply pass you by – after all – global warming will save you – and if it does not then we are rid of one more waste of skin.

Have a nice day.
commented 2015-12-04 16:56:26 -0500
Mark D. Johnson: you’re per capita numbers are wrong, Canadians emit just over or under double on a per capita basis than China depending on the source —at least according to the numbers supplied by the World Bank and the Netherlands Environmental Agency. Having been to China many live in abject poverty, especially in the hinterlands where people literally live in what can be only described as caves and mudhuts. That means as China grows in prosperity, their emission trajectory can only go upward until they are on par or likely exceed that amount (or conversely, Canadians would have to give up it’s standard of living in order to regress to lower per capita limits). In fact since 2011 they have gone up 1 ton per capita in just that short time.

As of this post, China are commissioning 2,400 new coal-fired power plants to help meet (but not yet meet entirely) their energy demands (6.5 Billion tonnes of carbon) per year (adding to the current ~11 Billion tonnes); this will mean an over 50% increase on a per capita basis. In terms of total emissions these NEW plants will be an order of magnitude more than what Canada emits, that doesn’t even account for their existing emissions. Regardless, per capita arguments are nothing but moral obfuscation, since it’s TOTAL emissions that are argued against by environmentalists.

But all that is moot: Newsflash—CO2 isn’t a pollutant and carbon is an essential component to all life, as is the CO2 molecule act as a transfer agent for C in the carbon cycle. The repetition that CO2 is a pollutant is not only scientifically and factually false, it shifts the focus from REAL air pollutants such as aldehydes, nitric oxides, sulphur dioxide and particulates that lower overall air quality; and as Sheila Gunn Reid pointed out, when you look at those REAL pollutants, Canada is doing very well, ranking top 5 in the world with an Air Quality Index rating of 13 approximately 53 below world average (below 50 is ‘good air quality’). China has an AQI of 98 (+27 over world average; bottom 16 in the world) which is threshold for “unhealthy.” I wonder how that will trend over time given their environmental regulatory policies? But please, go on about CO2 while breathing out more CO2.
commented 2015-12-04 16:30:13 -0500
Mark you are an idiot. Tree, water, cows etc all give off CO2 .Global warming is total bull shit.
commented 2015-12-04 16:26:49 -0500
Mark if you worked in the industry you would know ALberta has the strictest regulations on the planet and we go to great pains for them. Now go freeze, you cannot use wood as burning wood creates more carbon than burning gas by as huge amount LMAO
commented 2015-12-04 16:21:43 -0500
Mark there is no problem to fix , you think there is then you go without. Quit forcing your idiocy on others.
commented 2015-12-04 16:20:06 -0500
Mark we account for little and we are not harming anyone you halfwit, your chicken little garbage is not real, and China having a billion people does not make us dirtier, there is only one earth. The carbon tax will not have any effect, it had no effect in Europe and the libs raised our carbon under Kyoto , it went down under Harper. 40% of almost nothing is still almost nothing. Sorry carbon is not poison because you want it to be, now go pollute the ground and the water with your wind turbines.
commented 2015-12-04 14:17:32 -0500
As an FYI, Canada contributes the same amount of carbon per capita as the US. Which is roughly four times the China rate.
But Albera contributes nearly 40% (as stated in this very article) of the total Canadian emissions, which is the highest or near the highest in the industrialized AND developing world.