Op-ed contributed by Michelle Stirling © 2019

The Edmonton Journal published an editorial on May 24, 2019, entitled “Keep Alberta’s Carbon Tax.”

I had submitted an argument against carbon taxes back on Feb. 13, 2019, but the editorial team at The Journal did not accept it.  I was rebutting an argument in favor of a price on carbon presented by parties from Ecojustice and the David Suzuki Foundation.  Ecojustice was going to court that week to argue for a price on carbon.  We issued a press release on the matter, in concert with a new report, “Big Green Money.”

Even though Alberta’s carbon tax has been repealed, the battle is not over.

Since provinces are still arguing the constitutional case in court, it seems only fair to share my insights (slightly expanded) to help inform the public so that people can appreciate the implications of carbon pricing for Canada.  It is concerning that mainstream media are unwilling to publish opposing views on carbon price, climate change and extreme weather.  We all know the old adage about newspapers: “If it bleeds, it leads” – but surely they don’t want to bleed the country to death.  What will the future hold with the government media fund and ‘digital charter’?


Carbon Price – Unfair, Ineffective and Based on a Faulty Premise

by Michelle Stirling

Devon Page of Ecojustice and Steve Cornish of the David Suzuki Foundation are misinforming the public with their claims in their recent Edmonton Journal op-ed.

At issue is the fact that Saskatchewan and Ontario are challenging the federal government’s constitutional right to impose a carbon tax, which both provinces say will negatively affect the economy.

Look no further than Alberta for evidence.  Our recent report “Carbon Pricing Consequences for Alberta” (which rebuts the claims of Environmental Defence) shows the devastation wrought by the carbon tax in Alberta.  How is it fair and equitable that 7,000 people’s jobs in the coal industry and 30 communities are being destroyed?

To save the planet? From what? Carbon dioxide – something that science now shows has a nominal effect on warming?

Since 2002, scientists have known that human industrial carbon dioxide is not the main driver of climate change. This was confirmed in 2013 when the UN Climate Panel (IPCC) report showed no statistically significant warming since before Kyoto was ratified – despite a tremendous rise in carbon dioxide concentration. That hiatus continues.[1]

It is Al Gore’s Climate Reality team and the ClimateWorks’ green billionaires’ funding of Environmental Non-governmental Organizations (ENGOs) for more than a decade in a global campaign that has made ‘climate catastrophe’ a ‘thing.’  [2]

Page and Cornish cite several “Book of Revelations” natural disasters as evidence of climate change, misleading the public into thinking that a cut in fossil fuel use would stop wildfires or floods. That is magical thinking.

Thinking that catastrophes like major hurricane landfalls, massive forest fires etc. will be ‘cured’ by eliminating fossil fuel emissions is laughable.  Well its not really funny.  Thinking that eliminating fossil fuel emissions will ‘solve’ the problem of extreme weather events is very sad, sort of on the level of doing rain dances.  Every thing that goes wrong, they blame on fossil fuel driven climate change.

Imagine how surprised they would be if we were ever to be successful at eliminating fossil fuel emissions, and then we still had bad weather! – Dr. Judith Curry, Atmospheric Scientist

The UN Climate Panel’s special report on extreme weather says there is no correlation between human-influence on climate and these extreme events.

And what if we were to adopt carbon pricing, just to play along in the world?

Research in Norway showed it is ineffective in reducing emissions – despite very aggressive policies and pricing. A 2004 paper by Bruvold and Larsen reports that Norway’s decade long efforts resulted in just a 2% reduction in emissions.

Norway runs mostly on hydro, so their tax imposition was not very destructive to average people.  Canada is 31 times the size of Norway and unlike the generally balmy winters of Norway, our temperatures are extreme, and distances are vast. Fair to tax us? Don’t think so.

Furthermore, our largest trading partner, the US, has pulled out of the non-binding Paris Agreement. President Trump is a businessman. Paris is bad for business.  For Canada to reach Paris greenhouse gas reduction targets would be comparable to reducing Canada’s per capita emissions and our energy economy to the current levels of Bolivia, Sudan or Iraq, as Robert Lyman points out.

We cannot meet Paris targets without destroying Canada. In my opinion, these targets are designed to push a global cap and trade scheme for the vested interests of the ClimateWorks billionaires.

Page and Cornish also claim that the recent UN Climate Panel (IPCC SR15) says we only have 12 years left. That is not what the report says – that’s what media headline seekers say about it.

People should read the thoughtful work of climate policy expert, Roger Pielke, Jr. “Opening Up the Climate Policy Envelope” will help people make sense of these crazy ‘end of the world’ claims. Pielke, Jr. also has an excellent paper on “Misdefining Climate Change”

We don’t support a price on carbon because based on our years of literature review, the sun is the main driver of climate change.

Page and Cornish conflate the term ‘pollution.’  Carbon dioxide is not on the Canadian inventory of air pollutants because it is not a pollutant.

As for polluter pays? Canadians have been paying for 50 years, to reduce noxious air pollutants.[3] Thus, Canada is in the top three nations with the best air quality in the world.

Canadians now pay $170/tonne carbon tax equivalent in provincial and federal fuel taxes. The carbon tax in the rest of the world? $2/t in China; and avg of $8/t elsewhere. USA? Zero.

So much for the fair and equitable argument.

Climate will change – warmer or cooler – and we must adapt, not waste time and money on these senseless schemes to enrich green billionaires, crony capitalists, and make us carbon serfs.

Michelle Stirling is the Communications Manager for Friends of Science Society, a member of AAAS and the Canadian Association of Journalists.

[1] https://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/curry-senatetestimony-2014-final.pdf

[2] https://blog.friendsofscience.org/2019/02/12/big-green-money-vs-conventional-energy-advocates/

[3] https://blog.friendsofscience.org/2018/10/06/prime-minister-trudeau-is-wrong-on-polluting-for-free-heres-why/

Faulty Premises= Poor Public Policy on Climate (rebuttal report to IPCC SR 15)