Thursday, October 28

Conservatives can’t quit their addiction to opposing carbon taxes

For a government desperate for any kind of political victory, the news that Dow Chemical aims to spending $ 10 billion tripling the size of an existing Alberta petrochemical plant and making it the world’s first net zero emissions facility of its kind was a gift the Kenney government was unwilling to pass up.

The plant will use carbon capture technology to produce ethylene, a chemical used to make plastics and other materials, with no associated emissions. It’s the province’s largest single investment in 15 years and a boon for a government that has repeatedly promised Albertans that it would create more jobs. There’s just one catch: According to Dow CEO Jim Fitterling, Jason Kenney has Justin Trudeau to thank for the company’s decision.

“In Canada, right now, it’s priced at $ 40 per tonne on carbon,” Fitterling said. “It is going to reach more than $ 100 per ton in the time period in which we are talking about this investment.”

The federal carbon tax, which the Kenney government has vigorously opposed on every available shift, including in the Supreme Court of Canada, is one of the main reasons Fitterling’s company chose Canada over the United States for your historical net zero project. And it speaks to the emerging reality that in a low-carbon, clean technology economy, the much-maligned carbon tax is more of an economic advantage than an albatross.

By raising the price of carbon, the federal government is tilting the economic table toward companies that can reduce their emissions and making their operations more profitable than higher-emitting competitors. And because the NDP-era industrial carbon pricing policy, one left largely intact by the UCP, rewards lower-emitting facilities with emissions performance credits, projects like Dow’s are starting to look much more attractive.

Kenney, of course, did not mention this in his effusive comments, but instead attributed the company’s decision to the policies of his government and his province’s carbon capture assets and infrastructure.

But he is not the only one who refuses to acknowledge the reality of the carbon price. In British Columbia, BC’s far-right liberal leadership candidate Aaron Gunn has promised to “remove the carbon tax,” apparently without realizing that this would simply activate federal support and send the proceeds to Ottawa instead of Victoria. In Ottawa, Pierre Poilievre is more than happy to blame Trudeau for the high level of gasoline. prices, seemingly unaware that world oil prices are higher than they have been in six years.

On Twitter, some of Kenney’s high-profile former colleagues in the Harper administration seem determined to continue fighting their losing battle. Rachel Curran, former director of policy at Stephen Harper, tweeted: “There is no evidence that carbon excise taxes reduce emissions significantly.” In a very similarly worded tweet, Harper’s former deputy chief of staff, Jenni Byrne wrote: “British Columbia has had a carbon tax for over a decade and emissions have increased. Canada’s emissions have increased since @JustinTrudeau became PM “.

This is a tired and completely discredited topic of conversation, of course. British Columbia emissions have abandonment between five and 15 percent compared to a normal scenario. And Canada’s carbon tax was only introduced in 2018 at a level that was not high enough to immediately generate emission reductions, especially as Alberta continued to increase its greenhouse gas-intensive oil production.

Now that the federal carbon tax is actively attracting investment to Canada, conservatives may want to consider withdrawing their long-held argument that it is a “job-killing” measure.

This refusal to let the federal carbon tax lie is more than a waste of everyone’s time. For federal conservatives, it is political self-harm. After losing the 2019 election because they refused to take climate change seriously, they made a more serious attempt in 2021 with Erin O’Toole’s half-carbon saving program.

Opinion: One thing is becoming clearer: While the trash talk of the federal #CarbonTax may still work well within the #Conservative family, it is increasingly toxic to the rest of the country, writes columnist @maxfawcett. #Cdnpoli

Now, after Trudeau’s third electoral victory, the Conservatives are openly debating whether that was a mistake, and whether it may have cost the People’s Party of Canada votes, and perhaps even the election itself.

But according to a recent exit poll made by Clean prosperity, it almost certainly did them more good than bad. More than half of potential Conservative voters (52 percent) told Leger that they believe the party should do more for the climate, while only five percent think it should do less.

And while 21 percent of prospective Tory voters said O’Toole’s carbon pricing scheme made them more likely to vote for their local CCP candidate, only eight percent said it made them less likely.

“If there is one conclusion from our survey,” said Clean Prosperity CEO Michael Bernstein, “it is that rejecting the carbon price would hurt the Conservative Party far more than it would help them.”

That advice may fall on deaf ears, given that opposition to carbon taxes has become an article of faith for many prominent Canadian conservatives, including those within O’Toole’s own group who may want a chance at their job.

But one thing is becoming clearer: While the nonsense about the federal carbon tax may still work well within the conservative family, it is increasingly toxic to the rest of the country, especially vote-rich urban areas that will only continue. growing in size. and influence.

If the Conservatives really want to win an election anytime soon, they should find a new hobby.

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