CALGARY, Alta. – Though it admits there will be added costs with regard to the provincial government’s recently announced climate change plan, the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) believes the cost of not implementing a strategy could prove much greater.
The Alberta government released its climate change plan Nov. 23, and the sweeping proposed piece of legislation would introduce a carbon tax on every Alberta resident, individuals and businesses alike, phase out coal plants, place a cap on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on the production of the province’s oilsands, all aiming to reduce Alberta’s carbon footprint by around 20 megatonnes by 2020 and 50 megatonnes by 2030, compared to if no action was taken at all.
AMTA board chairman Dan Duckering recognized the fact that all levels of government are currently faced with tough decisions when it comes to balancing environmental priorities with economic drivers.
“Carbon taxes will drive behavioural changes in all industries impacted by them,” he said in an email to Truck West. “Some will have positive and negative outcomes in terms of economic growth and capital investment. The AMTA will continue in its mandate to understand how industry will be impacted as the ramifications of the new climate change plan becomes more apparent.”
Duckering said the AMTA would continue in its efforts to educate industry leaders, and in other cases, lobby for better policies on industry’s behalf.
He also said that it was important to remember that the trucking industry was a ‘lean business’ where all cost increases must be passed through.
Alberta’s climate change plan will mean Albertans will be paying more at the pumps – just shy of 5 cents per litre starting in 2017.
“The industry standard of attaching fuel surcharges is a strong indicator of the commitment industry has to keeping costs as low as possible, while providing safety for carriers when volatile fuel prices climb,” Duckering said. “Once the industry gets a more complete picture of how the climate change plan will work, it will work to find the most equitable way of passing those costs forward.”
The government’s plan calls for a $30 per tonne charge on carbon emissions, which would be fully implanted by 2018 and is at par with neighbouring British Columbia’s carbon tax. A $20 per tonne tax will commence January 2017 and will have an effect not just on businesses but also individuals, increasing the cost of gas, natural gas and electricity.
Low and middle income Albertans will be eligible for government rebates to offset these new costs.
Duckering said that although it would be irresponsible for any organization to discourage positive steps to protect the environment long term, it was incumbent upon the AMTA to continue to provide needed information to ensure regulators can make informed decisions.
“Often, an idealistic approach to these issues can do more harm than good as industry gets put between a rock and a hard place,” Duckering said, adding that government also needs to continue to engage industry and consider the impact of new legislation, like the climate change plan.
“Thankfully, to date, our experience has been that this government is more than willing to have good dialogue on their policy positions,” Duckering said. “We hope to continue this dialogue within Alberta and across provinces to facilitate better regulatory compliance by industry.”
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