Monday, March 16, 2015

Carbon tax is not a marketing tool

Jonathan Skrimshire, Commentary

At a recent Edmonton panel discussion, covered in a piece by Deborah Yedlin in the Calgary Herald, academics and representatives from industry and government debated the merits of Alberta’s Specified Gas Emitters regulations and presented the case for moving to some broader form of carbon tax targeting consumers. Among the many points presented was the now commonplace claim that a consumer tax would somehow prove advantageous when marketing Alberta’s oil internationally.

Advocates who argue that a carbon tax would improve Alberta’s image and thus reduce opposition to pipelines and oil sands production are mistaken and misguided.

Environmental opposition to the oil sands is based upon the vast amounts of hydrocarbon resources consumed in the production process itself. Pipeline opponents believe that if the world must use oil, it should use only that which results in the least CO2 emissions, and leave CO2 intensive products such as oil-sands oil in the ground.

If one accepts the premise that CO2 emissions pose a threat to global climate, that argument is completely sound. Implementing a carbon tax would do absolutely nothing to change it.

The only legitimate reason for Alberta to enact a carbon tax would be to discourage the use of carbon-based fuels. But nobody should be surprised if environmentalists say “Thank you very much” and then redouble their opposition to the oil sands and the pipelines that carry its products.

Republished with permission from

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