It’s been nearly eight months since the NDP government unleashed scores of controversy with the revelation and implementation of the new carbon levy. Any big government change is bound to evoke uncertainty, fear, and thus controversy, but now that Albertans are settling into the new Alberta carbon tax, how are things going?
While many business owners are still voicing their displeasure over the Alberta carbon tax, much of the conversation surrounding the topic itself has died down, and many business owners are pointing to government leadership tactics instead of the carbon tax itself as the cause for their dissent. Of course, the opposition is still citing the tax as proof of NDP incompetency, but what does it mean that the angry rants about the Alberta carbon tax are tending to die down? Could it be an indication of success?
As unpopular as the Alberta carbon tax is, it is doing what it was implemented to do: it’s attempting to create a bit more equity among classes by taxing higher incomes a little more heavily and using the extra revenue to assist the lower income groups. As of January, as much as 28 per cent of revenue from the carbon tax was going directly back to Albertans.
In addition, the Alberta carbon tax is being promoted as a means of encouragement for Alberta’s citizens to begin participating in green initiatives. Part of the revenue from the rebate is being used to create green initiatives that are intended to help make green energy and energy conservation more accessible to Albertans.
While it is yet to be seen whether the carbon tax has actually led to an increase in green energy use and energy conservation techniques throughout Alberta, Alberta’s carbon tax success is indicated in the fact that it is being imitated across the rest of the country. By 2018, the government of Canada has assured Canadians that all provinces will have a carbon fee in place—and the provinces who don’t implement their own carbon tax will have a federally imposed tax that will mimic the Alberta carbon tax, up to and including the rebate program.
This means that, across the board, Canadians will be paying more for their non-renewable energy in an attempt to meet Canada’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (to 30 per cent below 2005 levels, or by 200 million tonnes) by 2030. Thanks to the Alberta carbon tax, Alberta represents one of eight provinces and territories that have agreed to take part in the Pan Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change, and it is one of four provinces to have carbon pricing in place already.
The design of the Alberta carbon tax, according to David Suzuki, is to “provide a strong economic signal to switch to cleaner energy.” By itself, the carbon tax may seem like the disastrous implementation of a government that has lost its focus on the importance of business growth, but the carbon tax is an important part of causing the carbon emission reductions that are necessary to global climate stabilization, and the government’s investment in the Alberta carbon tax (and a national carbon tax), in combination with the implementation of other greenhouse gas-related protocols, like investing in public transportation, low-carbon infrastructure, stricter energy efficiency standards, and green energy incentives, is a clear indication of their focus on a stronger environmental and economic future.