Video: Alberta's Carbon Smoke and Mirrors

In the face of huge resistance, this month the Alberta Government ramped up its campaign to expand its tarsands exports by taking out a $30,000 half page advertisement in the New York Times. The ad made some spurious claims about Transcanada's Keystone XL pipeline.

Among other things, in a side column entitled "Did you know?" it talks about "pricing carbon", suggesting that Alberta actually has quite a strong carbon tax regime.

It says: “Alberta, Canada was the first place in North America to legally require all large industry to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and Alberta already has a $15 price on carbon.”

I'm not sure how people read this, but to me, living in British Columbia, that sounds like a $15 tax per tonne of carbon.

BC has had an escalating carbon tax since 1st July 2008, the first of its kind in North America. The "revenue neutral" tax started at $10 per tonne and rose $5 a year up to the current price of $30 per tonne of carbon emissions (6.67c per litre of gas).

So what does "a $15 dollar price on carbon" in Alberta mean? I interviewed Dr Mark Jaccard, professor of environmental economics at the School of Resource and Environmental Management (REM) at Simon Fraser University, for my documentary Running On Climate. In this clip he explains what the real price on Alberta carbon is.

I included a couple of recent CBC interviews with two of the main promoters of the Keystone XL project, Brad Wall and Alison Redford, premiers of Saskatchewan and Alberta to give you a sense of why this confusion arises.

Footnotes

The full CBC interviews are:
Alison Redford on CBC Power and Politics with Evan Solomon, CBC Television, 25 Feb, 2013
Saskatchewan Brad Wall on The House, Evan Solomon, CBC Radio, 16 Feb, 2013.