Alberta gets tough(ish) on big polluters

Canada's tar sands crank out 20 per cent more greenhouse gas than conventional crude oil


It’s official: a new study from the U.S. Department of Energy has concluded that Canada’s tar sands crank out 20 per cent more climate-choking greenhouse gases than conventional crude. 

It’s bad news for Alberta, which is trying to flip the script on its tarred reputation. Just last week it announced it’s beefing up its carbon levy on industrial emitters, oil patch included. 

Alberta’s new NDP government will be doubling the province’s notoriously ineffectual $15-per-tonne levy already in place on large polluters. It should be up to $30 a tonne by 2017.

Oil sands supporters are groaning, but will the levy have much of an impact? Alberta’s expected to crank out 287 megatonnes of GHGs annually by 2020, according to federal stats. The new levy is expected to shave off 5 megatonnes off that by 2017 – so the long and short of it is, not really.

As Greenpeace’s Mike Hudema says, “We are excited by the new open and consultative approach to climate policy put forward by [Alberta] Environment Minister Shannon Phillips and are glad the change to the existing carbon pricing regulation is just an interim measure, since the minimal carbon price increase won’t do much on its own.”

Alberta’s full climate change policy is coming this fall. In the meantime, activists south of the border are celebrating the Department of Energy findings, hoping they’ll be the nail in the coffin for Keystone XL. Ca

ecoholic@nowtoronto.com | @ecoholicnation

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