Alberta Sees Similar Carbon Reduction as B.C. With Price Signal

  • Per capita CO2 output to decline with policy change: minister
  • British Columbia saw use of fossil fuels drop 16% on CO2 tax

Alberta expects to see similar declines in per capita carbon emissions as neighboring British Columbia after imposing a tax on the greenhouse gas, said Environment Minister Shannon Phillips.

“We can expect a similar reduction on the consumer side,” Phillips said in an interview. “Any economist will tell you that the price signal will reduce CO2 -- that is an economic fact.”

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Phillips on Sunday unveiled sweeping changes to the province’s climate policy with a faster transition from coal to more renewable and gas power; an economy-wide carbon price of C$20 ($15) per ton in 2017 rising to C$30 in 2018 and a cap on oil-sands emissions. Alberta is the biggest provincial emitter of greenhouse gases in Canada even though it’s only the fourth-largest in terms of population.

In British Columbia, fossil fuel consumers pay a C$30-per-ton tax on carbon emitted, which corresponds to 6.67 cents a liter for gasoline, or 20 U.S. cents per gallon. Per capita use of fossil fuels has declined 16 percent since it came into force in 2008.

To encourage more renewable energy, the government favors a credits system, Phillips said. Such a system is competitive and favors the lowest-cost technology, she said. “We like that as a template.”

The government is also looking at ways to encourage small-scale renewable energy development by amending the current policy that allows owners of rooftop solar arrays to feed their electricity into the grid. The new policies will be passed into law in 2016 after the government has had time to work out the details, Phillips said.

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