There is a lot of demonizing Alberta these days. It used to be that Fort McMurray took all the heat for this ignorance. I recall lots of bad-mouthing media back in the day, the worst of which had a headline to the effect “The Town That Destroyed the Planet.”
Well Alberta is actually a world leader in many ways on innovations around carbon emission avoidance and reduction technologies. We are in fact enabling more leading edge innovations with a number of X-Prize and Grand Challenger approaches to carbon emissions. Here is a link to some of what is happening.
I personally think the recent Alberta government policy to price carbon and place that responsibility on industry, institutions, businesses and persons is a positive move to change behaviours and create markets for emerging clean tech innovations. With rebates back to low-income people with fewer options to adapt, it is a fair model.
There is no free ride on carbon emissions by anyone on the planet. Alberta’s carbon pricing approach is showing us that by enabling and encouraging ways to help us all reduce our personal, business or operational carbon footprints. This is being done with grants and rebates on carbon reduction purchase of new appliances and equipment to helping reduce business costs through facilities upgrades and process improvements.
Some like to say we can’t stay economically competitive with the carbon tax if others are not doing the same thing. I say they fail to see the competitive opportunities to save money on wasted energy and also make money on creating new products and services to reduce carbon emissions.
Alberta, looking through the carbon telescope on a global scale, is decimal dust contributor in the overall calculations on carbon emissions compared to others. However if we use a microscope and consider emissions by Albertans as individuals we are about the worst polluters on the planet. This is the economic benefit and environmental burden of our enormous fossil fuel based hydrocarbon economy.
I think if we Albertans took the microscope view and realized the duties and opportunities we have as the owners of Alberta’s oil and other hydrocarbon resources we should be motivated to be world leaders in reduced emissions innovation as a business opportunity and a “save the world” initiative as well.
If pollution is only a no-cost externality to our economic activity and how we live our lives and behave towards the environment, then this Alberta leadership will not happen. However with a province-wide carbon pricing policy that impacts on everyone there is a real positive motivation to change…and make money in the bargain by exporting our innovation expertise.
Business people like to say government should not be in business nor pick winners or losers, but rather they should be setting up the means for enterprise to thrive, create wealth and prosperity, I generally agree.
However, I also say carbon pricing is a sound and appropriate example of government setting up the means for enterprise to thrive. But first businesses have to be smart enough to adapt, be agile, adopt new technology, innovative and be creative. Alberta can’t expect a better yesterday will solve this challenge or create the potential opportunities.
If we are to genuinely progress we need to co-create a new approach now and strive for a better tomorrow for Alberta, and that includes embracing change to a low-carbon clean-tech sustainable economy.