Editor’s Log: The Year of the Carbon Tax

Canada already has one of the world’s cleanest power industries, and by 2030, when the last carbon-spewing coal-fired power plant closes, it will be even cleaner

January 04, 2017

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We’ve entered the New Year with a double-edged carbon challenge. Ottawa has yet to put flesh on its carbon pricing policy, which it brought out of the cupboard in the fall. If it goes wrong, it will tilt North America’s playing field away from us while our southern neighbor’s incoming president gives a green light to industry to merrily pump carbon as if there’s no tomorrow. If it goes right, it will help boost Canadian clean tech exports by incenting development and deployment of more carbon-grabbing innovations—this is the Chinese year of the bull carbon market as Beijing implements a national carbon pricing policy.

This year North West Redwater Partnership’s Sturgeon refinery and upgrader will start pumping its CO2 to oilfields along the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL), the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project.

Nearby, Shell’s Quest project captures carbon from its Scotford upgrader-refinery-petrochemical complex for underground storage. Across the border, SaskPower’s coal-fired Boundary Dam power station is a global leader in CCS.

On the Pacific coast, Kitimat Clean plans a low-carbon refinery, while in Nova Scotia CarbonCure Technologies exports its technology to U.S. construction firms, injecting CO2 into cement to strengthen it.

The Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance has declared a bold target: a carbon-neutral barrel of oil by 2040. Its oil sands members are collaborating on capturing CO2 and turning it into useful products. Suncor CEO Steve Williams was a driving force behind founding COSIA. His willingness to tackle carbon head on is one of the many reasons why we chose him as our CEO of the Year. His vision is matched by David Cornhill, our Chair of the Year who is also a clean energy advocate and a thought leader who proposes a VAT-style carbon tax that will punish U.S. suppliers of carbon-intense fuel and reward the cleaner Canadian option. The far-sightedness of our C-Suite award winners during this economic slump is what sets them and their companies apart. It’s why they survived and why they are well positioned to bounce back.

Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), which has evolved from Alberta’s Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC), has issued a $40 million challenge that awards up to $5 million in funding per winning project that helps cut methane emissions. It was from CCEMC’s similar challenge that carbon capturer Skyonic evolved. It was funded by the carbon levy—the first of its kind in North America.

Canada already has one of the world’s cleanest power industries, and by 2030, when the last carbon-spewing coal-fired power plant closes, it will be even cleaner. It is also building and upgrading refineries to be some of the world’s cleanest.

As we emerge from the low oil price deluge, having cut costs and emissions, into this year of hope, our world class environmental technology and regulations will prove to the naysayers that they have the wrong target in their sights.

More posts by Nick Wilson

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