Canada’s chief fossil fuel-producing province on Wednesday set a target of next Thursday (May 30) for scrapping its carbon tax at age 29 months.
Alberta’s new United Conservative Party (UCP) government introduced legislation to repeal the C$1.4 billion ($1 billion) per year levy on consumers but kept a carbon price, cap-and-trade program for high-volume industrial emitters.
“Promise made, promise kept,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. His UCP spring election platform pledged to scrap the consumer carbon tax, which the previous New Democratic Party (NDP) government enacted as of January 2017.
But the Alberta tax reprieve is expected to be brief. The Liberal government in Ottawa levies a federal consumer carbon tax in all provinces that refuse to enforce their own. The federal version is collected in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.
Alberta’s rates were C7cents/liter gasoline, C$1.51/gigajoule on natural gas and C5 cents/liter on propane. The federal rates are currently lower but are scheduled to rise every Jan. 1 for three years.
Kenney also aligned his Alberta UCP regime with Saskatchewan and Ontario government lawsuits that seek to stop the federal carbon tax as unconstitutional. The federal side won an initial split decision in Saskatchewan. A verdict is pending in Ontario. The cases are expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
As Canada’s top source of greenhouse gas emissions and a target of international protests by environmental groups, Alberta still retains a 12 year-old carbon price, cap-and-trade regime to clean up and defend its fossil fuel industry.
The industrial program collects about C$700 million ($525 million) each year in penalties for exceeding ever-stricter emissions limits. The funds go into cleanup research and development projects. Kenney’s new UCP government is drafting a revised, updated version called Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction.