Jason Kenney's Victory In Alberta Means We'll All Pay The Price For Fossil Fuel Emissions

Jason Kenney's Victory Means We'll All Pay The Price For Fossil Fuel Emissions The promise to scrap the Alberta carbon tax was a major part of Jason Kenney’s successful election campaign. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Rossiter

Jason Kenney has led the United Conservative Party to victory in Alberta. There were many objectionable components to the UCP campaign. One of the most ominous was Kenney’s promise to fight for the continued subsidization of Alberta’s dying fossil fuel industry.

Of course, Kenney didn’t phrase it that way.

He promised to eliminate the carbon price tax implemented by Rachel Notley’s NDP government. In fact, he pledged to Alberta voters it would be gone before the start of this summer’s Calgary Stampede.

When Kenney eliminates the Notley government’s carbon tax, Alberta will then be subject to the federal carbon pricing plan.

Conservatives unite

Kenney’s promise to fight the federal carbon tax aligns him with fellow premiers Doug Ford of Ontario, Blaine Higgs of New Brunswick and Scott Moe of Saskatchewan, as well as federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

Screenshot of a mass text message from federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and the author’s message in return. Scheer never responded.

Scheer and his provincial counterparts, the most vocal opponents of Canada’s putting a price on carbon, are self-professed lovers of the free market. The Wall Street Journal recently cited Kenney’s expected victory as evidence of Albertans’ support for free markets. Scheer, Kenney, Ford, Higgs and Moe are individualists who believe the market properly rewards hard work. They claim to want minimal government, especially in all things economic.

According to free market ideology, government action prevents markets from functioning optimally. Among the biggest targets of the ideology are subsidies. According to free market supporters, subsidies distort prices, sending buyers and sellers the wrong signals, producing inefficiencies. And yet, in the denunciation of carbon taxes, opponents are really demanding the maintenance of a subsidy.

Although the federal government is imposing a cost on emissions through a tax, it is properly thought of as a price. Currently, we freely dispose of carbon and other emissions when we burn fossil fuels.

A carbon tax puts a price on those emissions. In theory, it makes us cover the costs associated with emissions and alters our behaviour toward consumption with lower emissions.

Markets are implicated in the climate crisis

For millennia, humans have burned fossil fuels for energy. However, over the last two centuries, the scale of fossil fuel use has increased dramatically. A commensurate rise in emissions has resulted.

Remarkably early in this history, there were scientists suggesting this is a problem. The Swedish Nobel laureate Svante Arrhenius argued in 1896 that carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere could alter the Earth’s climate.

There is now effectively a scientific consensus that carbon and other emissions are dramatically altering our climate with a cascade of detrimental effects.

Fossil fuels offered a cheap, abundant and concentrated source of energy. However, cheapness was an illusion. Fossil fuel use was being subsidised by others.

Because the climate is global, the effects of climate change impose costs on people far removed in space from where the fossil fuels were burned. Because the effects of emissions take a while to emerge, they are imposing costs on people far removed in time from when the fossil fuels were burned.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney embrace on stage at an anti-carbon tax rally in Calgary in October 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

One of the central ideological tenets of markets is that the beneficiary of a good also bears the cost of that good.

Markets hide subsidy

Every time we burn fossil fuels — whether to heat our homes or power our vehicles — and we do not pay to deal with the emissions, we are subsidized by those distributed in space and time who will pay in one way or another. Markets hid the subsidy with the low price paid for fossil fuels.

Most opponents of the carbon tax have accepted the science behind climate change, if grudgingly. Most even accept that it is caused by humans. Yet they refuse to recognize that markets are implicated in the crisis.

A carbon tax, as currently implemented by the federal government, is a bare minimum for addressing the climate crisis. The tax will have disproportionate effects on poor people and rural citizens. However, these should be addressed, as necessary, with targeted subsidies.

Explicit subsidies, on the books and subject to critical evaluation, are preferable to the clandestine subsidies to which carbon tax opponents feel entitled.The Conversation

About The Author

D.T. Cochrane, Lecturer in Business and Society, York University, Canada

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfrdehiiditjakomsfaptruesswsvthtrurvi

POLITICS

Seeing The Planet Break Down In Climate Crisis Is Depressing – How To Turn Your Pain Into Action
Seeing The Planet In Climate Crisis Is Depressing – Turn Your Pain Into Action
by Cameron Brick
Environmentalism can feel like a drag. People trying to reduce their environmental impact often feel stressed and…
Jason Kenney's Victory Means We'll All Pay The Price For Fossil Fuel Emissions
Jason Kenney's Victory In Alberta Means We'll All Pay The Price For Fossil Fuel Emissions
by D.T. Cochrane
Jason Kenney has led the United Conservative Party to victory in Alberta. There were manyobjectionablecomponents to the…
Beto O’Rourke Releases $5 Trillion Climate Change Proposal
Beto O’Rourke Releases $5 Trillion Climate Change Proposal
by Global Warming & Climate Change
But Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led activist group that has advocated for the…
Climate denial isn’t stopping climate action.
by David Wallace-Wells
Climate change denial draws headlines. But is it actually an obstacle to climate action? A great majority of Americans…
Why Climate Protesters Should Be Wary Of 12 Years To Breakdown Rhetoric
Why Climate Protesters Should Be Wary Of 12 Years To Breakdown Rhetoric
by Myles Allen
I was invited to speak to a group of teenagers on climate strike in Oxford recently. Like many scientists, I support…
Climate science supports youth protests
Climate science supports youth protests
by Alex Kirby
The youth protests urging political action on climate change have won strong global backing from climatologists, as…
We Asked the 2020 Democrats About Climate Change Here Are Their Ideas
We Asked the 2020 Democrats About Climate Change Here Are Their Ideas
by Global Warming & Climate Change
Ms. Warren this week laid out a regulatory plan to end fossil fuel production on public lands.
How State Power Regulators Are Making Utilities Account For The Costs Of Climate Change
How State Power Regulators Are Making Utilities Account For The Costs Of Climate Change
by Iliana Paul and Denise Grab
The electricity powering your computer or smartphone that makes it possible for you to read this article could come…

LATEST VIDEOS

Blue Ocean Event : Game Over?
by Just Have a Think
A Blue Ocean Event, or Ice-Free Arctic, is the source of almost fever pitch speculation in the climate science world.…
Climate Change - The Facts by Sir David Attenborough
by David Attenborough, BBC
After one of the hottest years on record, Sir David Attenborough looks at the science of climate change and potential…
Why it’s time to think about human extinction
by Kerwin Rae
After listening to this ep with Dr David Suzuki, you’ll never be the same again. The environmentalist, activist,…
Record Temperatures 20-25C Above Norm in far North
by Paul Beckwith
The Northwest Territories of Canada had March temperatures above 20C for the first time (hit 21.6C or 71F); breaking…
Why New CO₂ Capture Technology Is Not The Magic Bullet Against Climate Change
Why New CO₂ Capture Technology Is Not The Magic Bullet Against Climate Change
by Chris Hawes
According to a recent major UN report, if we are to limit temperature rise to 1.5 °C and prevent the most catastrophic…
Why Climate Change Will Dull Autumn Leaf Displays
Why Climate Change Will Dull Autumn Leaf Displays
by Matthew Brookhouse
Every autumn we are treated to one of nature’s finest seasonal annual transitions: leaf colour change and fall.
Climate denial isn’t stopping climate action.
by David Wallace-Wells
Climate change denial draws headlines. But is it actually an obstacle to climate action? A great majority of Americans…
Energy Storage: How to store renewable energy?
by Total
Under your bed, in the attic even on your mobile phone, it seems there's never enough storage. It turns out it's also…

LATEST ARTICLES

Crops at risk from changing climate
Crops at risk from changing climate
by Tim Radford
Global warming could bring yet more challenges to a hungry world. New studies have identified precise ways in which a…
Seeing The Planet Break Down In Climate Crisis Is Depressing – How To Turn Your Pain Into Action
Seeing The Planet In Climate Crisis Is Depressing – Turn Your Pain Into Action
by Cameron Brick
Environmentalism can feel like a drag. People trying to reduce their environmental impact often feel stressed and…
Global Inequality Is 25% Higher Than It Would Have Been In A Climate-stable World
by Nicholas Beuret
Those least responsible for global warming will suffer the most. Poorer countries – those that have contributed far…
Jason Kenney's Victory Means We'll All Pay The Price For Fossil Fuel Emissions
Jason Kenney's Victory In Alberta Means We'll All Pay The Price For Fossil Fuel Emissions
by D.T. Cochrane
Jason Kenney has led the United Conservative Party to victory in Alberta. There were manyobjectionablecomponents to the…
How Can Trees Really Cool Our Cities Down?
How Can Trees Really Cool Our Cities Down?
by Roland Ennos, University of Hull
In cities around the world, trees are often planted to help control temperatures and mitigate the effects of the “urban…
Beto O’Rourke Releases $5 Trillion Climate Change Proposal
Beto O’Rourke Releases $5 Trillion Climate Change Proposal
by Global Warming & Climate Change
But Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led activist group that has advocated for the…
Should The Sahara Desert Be Turned Into A Huge Solar Farm?
Should The Sahara Desert Be Turned Into A Huge Solar Farm?
by Amin Al-Habaibeh
Whenever I visit the Sahara I am struck by how sunny and hot it is and how clear the sky can be.
How Retreating From The Sea Level Rise Will Affect Our Health?
How Retreating From The Sea Level Rise Will Affect Our Health?
by Jackson Holtz
Managed retreat in the face of sea level rise will be a mixed bag, researchers predict.