Alberta carbon tax: Money grab or economic ingenuity?

I was looking at Twitter the other day and found a pair of opposing tweets on Alberta’s new carbon tax, which were interesting (and amusing).

The first (and I am paraphrasing) read that the NDP government’s new carbon tax is a joke, as it is essentially a money grab because it places much of the financial onus on its citizens and businesses.

The second tweet was exactly the opposite, saying the carbon tax was the most sensible economic policy the province has seen in a while.

Whenever a new tax comes around, particularly one that affects so many people and has to do with the environment, there’s going to be debate, and of course the line between the two sides will be firmly drawn down political party lines. If you support something politically, you highlight all the good and completely ignore entirely the bad to try and win your argument, and the opposite is true if you oppose the plan.

Those who support the carbon tax say it will help motivate companies to lower their greenhouse gas emissions, garner money for energy efficient initiatives – and eventually invest $645 million into the provincial government’s Energy Efficiency Alberta fund – and sway the federal government to approve additional projects in Alberta, such as the recent pipeline approvals, to the dismay of many environmentalists.

Those who oppose the carbon tax say it will hit the wallets of all Albertans – driving up prices at the pumps, grocery store and pretty much everywhere else – and stymie business growth.

They add that energy efficient programs can be introduced without having to add the new tax, which is how they arrive at their conclusion that the carbon tax is nothing more than a money grab.

It should be noted that there is a fuel rebate program for individuals earning $47,500 or less and families bringing in $95,000 or less. But the government does predict the ‘average’ household will fork over an additional $70 per year, higher earners much more. How much businesses will have to pay is yet to be seen and depends on the business.

Both sides are correct. Of course a carbon tax will raise money that can be used to launch energy efficient programs; of course the tax will force businesses to try and curb emissions (something they have been doing regardless, as burning less fuel saves the company money); of course the carbon tax will persuade Ottawa to approve more energy projects, because there is currently a Liberal government. On the other side, of course the tax will hit our wallets – it already has with higher fuel prices; of course businesses will lose some money having to pay an additional tax, to what extent it will ‘stymie’ growth will depend on the business; and of course energy efficient programs can be introduced without having to add a new tax, plenty have been over the years without you and I having to pay a tax to fund them.

Trucking companies will get a financial hit from the carbon tax for their fuel usage, but if more pipelines and other projects get approved because of it, then that would bring more work to the industry, which is a good thing and could offset the additional expenditures of the tax. More pipelines means more GHG emissions, though, right?

The carbon tax on diesel per liter is 5.35 cents, gasoline is 4.49 cents and propane is an extra 3.08 cents.

Let’s be honest, the carbon tax is a money grab, but whether or not it’s a worthwhile seizure that helps people, businesses and the environment will take some time to ascertain.

One needn’t look any further than Ontario to see how electricity prices have soared with its government’s handling of ‘green’ energy initiatives

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A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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