Breakenridge: No clear purpose for federal emissions cap

Whereas the Alberta authorities has been extra centered as of late on the federal Clear Electrical energy Rules, this may occasionally change into a extra pressing matter

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We could also be nearer to some readability across the specifics of Ottawa’s proposed emissions cap on the oil and fuel sector. What stays elusive, nonetheless, is a logical or coherent purpose for why such a coverage is important and even advisable.

Maybe the silver lining to many in Alberta will probably be that the Liberals proceed to undermine their very own carbon pricing system, however there’s good purpose to be involved about Ottawa’s plans.

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Studies final week urged the feds would possibly use the COP28 summit as a chance to formally announce the emissions cap, however the full and last particulars will doubtless nonetheless be months away.

Whereas the Alberta authorities has been extra centered as of late on the federal Clear Electrical energy Rules (CER), this may occasionally change into a extra pressing matter. Whereas the electrical energy rules don’t take impact till 2035, the Liberals have eyed 2030 because the deadline for this emissions cap with a rumoured goal of a 42 per cent discount in emissions.

This could symbolize an unrealistic goal and timeline that might symbolize a big blow to not simply Alberta’s economic system, however Canada’s general GDP. Furthermore, although, it represents a extra expensive and fewer environment friendly strategy to emissions reductions. And it’s not clear what the purpose is to start with.

Final week, Prime Minister Trudeau gave a complicated — but additionally revealing — reply about why his authorities is pursuing this coverage course.

“It doesn’t make any sense to anybody that (the) oil and fuel sector ought to have an infinite capacity to pollute,” he declared, “And it doesn’t make any sense that any sector have an infinite quantity to pollute.”

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Both the prime minister momentarily forgot about carbon pricing or maybe he’s written it off altogether. Regardless, it’s weird to recommend there may be an “limitless capacity to pollute” when there’s a vital value hooked up to these emissions.

Trudeau additionally inadvertently makes the case in opposition to his authorities’s personal industry-specific strategy. When he refers to “any sector,” he appears to be suggesting there needs to be equity and consistency in how sector-specific emissions are handled. However that’s the precise reverse of how they’re continuing.

No different sector is or will probably be subjected to an emissions cap. Why ought to Ontario’s auto sector or Quebec’s cement sector proceed to “have an infinite capacity to pollute” underneath this authorities?

A tonne of carbon is similar, no matter the way it’s generated or the place it comes from. Carbon pricing displays that actuality. This emissions cap rejects it.

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The federal government’s allies on this file aren’t serving to, both. The environmental teams cheering this on are the identical teams who argue that the period of fossil fuels is coming to an finish, and that we should always count on to see a fast drop in demand adopted by manufacturing. Why, then, would there be a have to impose an emissions cap on a sector that’s fading into oblivion?

This all appears to disregard the very actual progress being made within the oil and fuel sector and the continued want for these assets. Emissions in standard oil and fuel are down 24 per cent over the previous decade and oilsands emissions had been flat final yr, regardless of elevated manufacturing. The six largest oilsands gamers are transferring ahead on a $16.5-billion carbon seize and storage mission.

Why isn’t the federal government holding up its carbon pricing as a contributor to that progress reasonably than undermining its signature coverage and ignoring these optimistic developments?

Ottawa and Alberta are on the identical web page in relation to assist for carbon seize know-how, and a collaborative strategy to incentivizing its improvement and deployment may very well be a much more efficient — and much much less economically damaging — strategy to curbing oil and fuel emissions.

Extra sovereignty act theatrics most likely aren’t the reply, however Alberta positively must push again onerous on this plan.

“Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” airs weekdays from 12:30 to three p.m. on QR Calgary

[email protected]

X: @RobBreakenridge

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