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Things are heating up

Why Alberta shouldn’t scrap the carbon tax

Illustration by Evan Brien

Illustration by Evan Brien

The earth is rapidly heating up, and a carbon tax is the best way to help combat the climate change crisis.

Based on the first nine months of this year, the earth is about to set another record: 2016 will be the warmest year in recorded history. 

We have a major reason to be concerned.

The increasing global temperatures are a growing trend, with the 21st century recording 16 of the 17 warmest years in history.

While events like El Niño have had an impact, the most important contributing factor in increasing global temperatures, according to a BBC News article from November, continues to be CO2 emissions. 

Changes need to be made now before it is too late.

On Nov. 1, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that provinces would have until 2018 to adopt a carbon-pricing platform to help combat greenhouse gas emissions, or the federal government would set imposed prices.

Under the NDP government, Alberta already established a carbon tax as of November 2015. It is one of four provinces to do so.

“All pain and no gain won’t make a dent in climate change,” said Paige MacPherson, the Alberta director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).

MacPherson said that people are surprised by the high cost of the carbon tax along with the poor timing given the state of Alberta’s economy.

She said that the tax has the potential to lower Alberta’s economic competitiveness, raise taxes in general, raise commodity prices and have hidden costs that cannot be directly traced.

In the end, though, the carbon tax will only help Alberta create a sustainable future. 

We have the responsibility to support changes that help combat climate change. Don’t let the fears put forth by CTF tell you otherwise.

CTF has created a “Scrap the Tax” campaign in order to try and raise awareness of their concerns. The campaign has “the goal of raising awareness with bumper stickers and billboards in Calgary and Edmonton. 

“It has sparked a conversation,” said MacPherson.

“[The federal government] will go through with the carbon tax regardless of public support. The government does not care.”

However, despite the fear expressed by groups like CTF, there are many benefits that can be gained through carbon taxes.

Trevor Tombe, an economics professor at the University of Calgary, told CBC that he believes it won’t kill the economy. Adding that many economists are convinced that practices like a carbon tax are the cheapest way to lower emissions. 

However, Trombe did provide the caveat that the tax could potentially shave approximately 0.05 per cent off of Alberta’s annual GDP growth for a couple years.

Economists say the carbon tax is predictable because it is based on a definite limit on stable emissions. 

The carbon tax will not fluctuate with the price of carbon.

Because the price is stable, companies can plan ahead and begin to explore alternative energy sources. So, as an added bonus, a carbon tax can encourage alternative energy sources by allowing them to be cost-competitive with cheaper fuels.

The tax will charge a fee on fossil fuels based on how much carbon is released when they are burned. The goal is to encourage people to reduce fossil fuel-based energy consumption.

The money raised by these taxes can also be used to help subsidize environmental programs. Or, in the case of Alberta, be issued in the form of rebates to those in need based on their economic tax bracket.

The fact is that middle-class families with an annual income under $90,000 have no need to worry about paying $600 a year, despite CTF claims. 

In Alberta, rebates are assured to individuals earning under $52,000 a year, which is great news for students.

Furthermore, the carbon tax is not going to mean death to all petroleum-based programs.

Premiere Rachel Notley has issued an ultimatum to Trudeau, stating that Alberta needs to get approval for a new pipeline to ensure the delivery of crude oil to tidewater from the federal government to support a national carbon levy.

If there is no approval for a crude oil pipeline, the provincial government will not support a national carbon levy that may go as high as $50 per metric tonne of carbon released. 

The Alberta carbon tax comes into effect Jan. 1, 2017 and will be an economy-wide tax of $20 per tonne. This price will rise to $30 per tonne on Jan. 1, 2018.

The plan also caps GHG emissions at 100 megatonnes from the oilsands.

The carbon tax is essential to ensuring that Alberta does have a future. 

The earth is already heating up, and we have an obligation to do what we can and take aggressive action now.

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