Carbon tax debate a complex issue

Letters to the Editor

5 Jan 2017
Lethbridge Herald

Much of the debate over the recently enacted carbon tax, it seems to me, misses the point.

The debate is often portrayed as a struggle between business people and consumers on the one hand, and unyielding environmentalists on the other. Actually, it is a little more complex than that. Admittedly, there are firmly committed environmentalists who are unlikely to compromise on either pipelines or oilsands extraction. But lost in the debate played out on editorial pages and newscasts is that both businesses and consumers have much more to gain from well-thought-out environmental initiatives than is generally recognized.

Albertans will be challenged to find new markets for our energy, agricultural, forestry and industrial products at a time when our traditional market in the United States appears to be softening. For many of these exports, our environmental credibility will have a lot to do with how well they are received.
Both the federal and Alberta governments recognize the link between sustainability and market access. The legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions in the oil patch at 100 megatons per year is a reflection of that fact. So, too, was the federal government’s insistence that Alberta put a carbon tax in place prior to approving two unpopular pipelines to the West Coast.

Alberta is in the unenviable position of deriving much of its wealth from an environmentally suspect source. Short of leaving the oil, gas and bitumen in the ground, Alberta needs to develop regulations, processes and innovative technologies that persuade our customers that we are serious about mitigating the environmental impacts associated with the energy sector.

Moreover, we should expect that future Albertans will be pressed to do the same thing in the agricultural, forestry, and manufacturing sectors.

Robert (Bob) Tarleck