rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Albertans support climate action: Lessons for the next federal government

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Photo: Chris Yakimov/flickr

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Congratulations to the Pembina Institute on a poll they conducted with EKOS Research, assessing support for climate action among Albertans. The results are fascinating and hopeful. You can find the full results here, and a good Postmedia summary here.

But a few highlights:

  • A large majority of respondents (70 per cent) support investing in renewable energy sources to reduce the province's reliance on coal-fired electricity.
  • A majority (56 per cent) of Albertans think the province has an obligation to cut emissions to address climate change, while only 26 per cent disagree.
  • 53 per cent of those polled said they support stronger climate change policies, even if they mean higher costs for oil sands producers.

More interesting still:  50 per cent of those polled supported an economy-wide carbon tax (such as exists in B.C.) as opposed to an Alberta-style levy that applies only to greenhouse-gas producing industries; while 38 per cent are opposed to such a tax.

But perhaps most interesting is this: support for an economy-wide carbon tax rises to 72 per cent when the revenue raised is directed towards infrastructure and community projects to reduce carbon emissions, and rises to 60 per cent when the money raised is used to protect low-income households from increased energy prices. In contrast, using the money raised to lower personal income taxes does nothing to increase support for a carbon tax.

These latter findings correspond with what we at CCPA have said for years. Namely, making carbon taxes "revenue-neutral" (ploughing all the money raised into various tax cuts, as B.C. does) makes no sense. It's a poor use of resources, and a lost opportunity to take climate action and restore tax fairness -- and the public gets it!

You can see Marc Lee's critique of revenue neutrality here.

These findings also offer an important lesson for the next federal government, and point to some strengths and weaknesses of the NDP versus Green Party approaches to carbon pricing.

The NDP's "cap-and-trade" plan would set specific emission limits (a cap) for industrial emitters, and then would make industry pay for the GHGs they produce. The money raised would not be used to lower taxes, but rather, would go to the provinces to be spent on climate action investments. So the NDP has wisely chosen to pass on the traditional (and cynical) "revenue-neutral" approach. The Green Party's "fee and dividend" plan would include an economy-wide $30/tonne carbon tax (which the public supports), but then takes all the money raised and gives it back in an equal tax-cut to all adults (which Albertans indicate they view as a poor use of the revenues raised).

The Liberals have not proposed a specific carbon-pricing plan, but rather, say they will work with the provinces to establish national emission-reduction targets and "ensure that the provinces and territories have adequate tools to design their own policies to meet these commitments, including their own carbon pricing policies."

The Conservatives have rejected carbon pricing outright, stating instead a preference for a regulatory approach. But thus far, as Marc Lee notes in this recent post, the government's success using this method leaves much to be desired. While GHG emissions fell during the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, they have increased every year since (going up to 2013, the last year for which we have data). And after years of promises, the government has yet to propose a GHG regulatory regime for Canada's oil and gas sector.

Hopefully the next government will move forward with a vigorous economy-wide carbon-pricing plan, tied to legislated GHG emission reduction targets, and will use revenues raised to help get the job done. If the public in Alberta is ready, surely the rest of Canada is too.

Photo: Chris Yakimov/flickr

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.