Posted by Michelle Stirling, Communications Manager Feb. 25, 2017
This post responds to Alberta Environment and Parks recently posted three part series entitled “Myths and Realities of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan.” Part Two Part Three
The sad part of this is that the “myths” claimed by the government are far closer to the sorry truth, hence their need to try and rebut the public perceptions, with press releases and the three-part blog posts.
Following the Alberta government’s “interactive” telephone town hall discussions with Minister Shannon Phillips December 13 and 14, 2016, the Ministry of Alberta Environment and Parks issued three “clarifying” notes, titled “Myths and realities of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan”, intended to address what they feel are misunderstandings associated with the Plan. These were issued Dec 22, 2016, Jan 13, 2017, and Feb 17, 2017. Make what you will of the timing: It could be it takes a long time to determine the myths, it could be that such public notices should be spaced out nicely, it could be that important issues like this just take the government PR people a long time to sort out.
Never mind. Where to start? Perhaps with the description of the “interactive telephone town hall discussions”. They claim 50,000 Albertans “participated” which, while the number may be true, the description is stretching the truth. Some questions were asked, and sounded very much like carefully screened “softballs” lobbed up for the benefit of the Minister to enable her to breathlessly read what appeared to be prepared talking points. The only Calgary question which seemed the least bit contentious was mysteriously cut off part way through, which did not stop the Minister from then reading off a few more prepared points in “reply”.
Now, if anyone knows about myths, it is governments proposing “Climate Leadership”, and Alberta is no exception. Our federal government is also no stranger to telling whoppers and the “Big Lies” to support their climate stance; please see our previous post on the Canadian government submission supporting its “80 by 50 plan”: https://friendsofsciencecalgary.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/confusing-development-with-delusion-and-destruction/
So here is a very quick look at, and replies to, the Alberta government’s three postings on myths and realities:
“It’s a Myth” Claim #1: The carbon levy (note, not a tax!) will raise household costs by thousands of dollars per year. The they claim the “levy” will “marginally increase the cost of gases used for heating and transportation”.
Comment – The truth: What is their source for the statement “thousands of dollars per year”, perhaps they could provide a citation? Various groups have suggested the tax will be expensive, such as: http://www.taxoneverything.ca. The Alberta government’s reply simply tries to obfuscate the fact that costs will go up by carving it into components and talking about the first year, when the rate is lowest.
“It’s a Myth” Claim #2: Rebates make the levy ineffective. They argue rebates are tied to income, not energy use.
Comment – The truth: Perhaps the main point which is missing is that this tax will have no effect on climate, period. It is simply a wealth transfer and vote-buying mechanism, with some substantial carving off of revenues to pour down the green energy transition drain. The sad part is that it will still be regressive because of its effect on overall cost of living, and its negative effect on economic development and investment in Alberta. We will all suffer from the economic drag, with those on the lower end of the income scale hurting most of all.
“It’s a Myth” Claim #3: This won’t actually reduce emissions. They argue pricing carbon is “economist-approved” and hey, it worked in BC. NOT! Here are NDP critics bashing the BC Carbon Tax.
Comment – The truth: Some economists argue not necessarily for a carbon tax as an inherently good thing, but rather it as the least of all evils. Further, economists who tentatively support a carbon tax, recommend that it must be accompanied by casting off all the other job-killing regulations and rules which we are saddling ourselves with (as if that would ever happen!). As for BC, please show me an unbiased study which clearly demonstrates that the claimed drop in energy-related GHG emissions in BC is solely due to the BC carbon tax – they also only mention 2007-2011, why? Perhaps its because BC reports that by 2014, the last year available from the BC government inventory, GHG emissions are UP about 3% over 2011. There are some interesting stats within that as well: Energy as a category emits 5% more, within that we have Pipeline Transport up 28% and Transport generally up 11%. I guess British Columbians are coming to grips with the carbon tax, at least in terms of consumption. For BC inventory figures, please go to: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/climate-change/reports-data/provincial-ghg-inventory
“It’s a Myth” Claim #4: Albertans were not consulted on the Plan. The Alberta government argues that the government appointed a panel and engaged with Albertans.
Comment – The truth: Actions, spirit and intent are all important. Driving ahead with pre-conceived ideas and a biased reporting mechanism while “engaging” with your electorate fails the test.
As we pointed out at the time in various commentaries and videos, the Alberta Climate Panel was too one-sided.
By the way, showing idle wind turbines manufactured by a failed Danish company does not seem like a great way to illustrate the point in the Alberta government blog. Oh well, at least when they are idle they are not slicing and dicing birds and bats.
Source: Alberta government blog Part Two – this eerie image appears to show photo-shopped Danish wind turbines damaging Alberta’s world famous view of the Rocky Mountains – a multi-million dollar a year industry. BTW here’s the carbon footprint of a wind turbine. Shocking.
“It’s a Myth” Claim #5: Alberta will see energy prices rise like Ontario. The Alberta government makes five false points attempting to rebut this:
1. AB gov’t says: Renewables are not being funded by adding costs to consumer electricity bills, but through reinvesting carbon revenues.
The truth: This is being disingenuous at best (insincere, dishonest, false, deceitful, etc). Higher prices are higher prices, whether showing up in your energy bill or your tax bill or your grocery bill or your reduced job prospects.
2. AB gov’t says: A competitive process is being used in Alberta, ensuring only the most cost-effective projects receive support.
The truth: Being the best of the worst does not mean “cost-effective”, not does it mean costs will not go up, as they surely will.
3. AB gov’t says: More than 43% of Ontario’s cost increases are related to nuclear, which is not applicable in Alberta.
The truth: So what?! We are eliminating coal, which will come at a tremendous direct and indirect cost to all Albertans, largely hidden away in various government categories of expenditures. Coal is the primary source of power generation for system load in Alberta. (see graph at bottom of post)
4. AB gov’t says: In Ontario solar and wind prices were bought at much higher prices than will be the case here.
The truth: For one thing, not having gone through a tendering process yet, the Alberta government simply cannot make this claim. And again, buying unreliable solar and wind at inflated prices, even if slightly lower than Ontario, will mean higher costs! Further, as we have outlined, there was NO INTEREST in wind/solar investment in Alberta as prices were too low– so wind and solar will have to be subsidized to attract investors. Experts put that at about $35/kWh which taxpayers will pay, one way or another.
5. AB gov’t says: Alberta’s plan is based on carbon pricing and investing in “energy transition and efficiency”.
The truth: So is Ontario’s, just expressed in a different way. There is no jurisdiction on the planet which has made any meaningful transition to renewables and generally all who have tried are suffering the consequences of significantly higher prices, whether through prices, tariffs, taxes, or all of these.
Ontario Society of Professional Engineers show the price rise for power by source of generation. Wind and Solar components require extensive multi-billion dollar investments in integration and transmission lines in order to operate on the grid. At present, the price of coal power ‘at the gate’ (before administration, distribution costs, etc.) is about 2 cents/kWh in Alberta. Ontario only had about 24% coal power generation; coal serves about 64% of Alberta’s system load (see graph bottom of page). Prices will be significantly affected in Alberta, as well consumers will bear the $3 billion compensation costs, the >$11 billion for replacing the coal fleet with natural gas, and there will be virtually no environmental or ‘climate change’ benefit as natural gas paired with volatile wind and solar ends up putting out virtually the same carbon dioxide emissions as coal. Natural gas is also a market commodity, subject to wild price swings.
Please, Albertans are not stupid. We see what has occurred in Ontario and every other “green” jurisdiction and we very rightly ask why we will be any better off. Stop calling the rational objections of Albertans “myths” – the only myth is that we will achieve different results by applying substantially the same policies.
“It’s a Myth” Claim #6: Carpetbaggers will come to your door selling green services and stuff. Government legislation will save you.
Comment – The truth: Not worth talking about. People are quite capable of buying their own LED light bulbs and low-flow shower heads without government assistance.
“It’s a Myth” Claim #7: Home inspection is needed to see if I qualify for a rebate. The Alberta government reply “this is a scam.”
Comment – The truth: The truth comes out! So the Alberta government created a program, with the direct effect of encouraging scams of various kinds. Then they made a new law to make the scam illegal. Yet, to participate in parts of the Alberta government program, you do have to call in and schedule a home inspection – and of course more government employees will probably be required to handle that need. So… green job creation. More bureaucracy. In short, the Alberta government’s attempt to decimate what it says are ‘myths’ only serves to demonstrate what big whoppers they are putting out to the electorate.
As we have pointed out in the past, Alberta’s first climate leadership plan began in 2002 and was far-reaching and ahead of its time. Many of the efficiencies the present government is claiming to want to achieve, were done over a decade ago, but Alberta’s reputation was smeared by offshore-funded activists. When will governments do something about THAT?
Source: AESO 2016 Market Report on 2015 stats
The most recent report shows little change (pg. 11)