Oil industry pushing for carbon tax in Alberta

Alberta's largest oil and gas company wants Alberta to step up its environmental policy and introduce a carbon tax

But if heavy emitters are going to pay, they want consumers to share the burden

Suncor's CEO explains how and why Alberta needs a carbon tax 4:54

The biggest players in Canada's oil and gas industry are urging Alberta's government to step up its environmental policies and introduce a carbon tax.

Alberta already has carbon pricing, but the program is limited and it will expire in the next few months.

Suncor CEO Steve Williams told a crowd in downtown Calgary on Friday that change is needed in Alberta to improve Canada's global reputation.

"We're trying to move Canada to a position of leadership, that's not how we are viewed around the world at the moment. We are viewed to be quite the opposite," said Williams.

Suncor, along with fellow Canadian energy company Cenovus, says the time is right for Alberta to address its environmental policies. But they also say if the province adopts a carbon tax, it should be broad based and apply to everyone.

That includes consumers. The idea is that industry will pay a carbon tax, but so too will the average person. That would include having to pay extra at the pumps and on their natural gas and electricity utility bills.

"Absolutely," said Williams. "A realization by the consumer is really important because if you want energy efficiency, if you want people to change their behaviours and affect the demand side, you have to get to those users."

Alberta's next premier, Rachel Notley, will be sworn in this weekend. She's already facing pressure to address the province's carbon emissions. Alberta produces 36 per cent of Canada's total emissions.

Former Finance Minister Jim Dinning says a carbon tax is a good idea, but the new NDP government should take its time to get the policy right.

"Employment is important, jobs are important and any action that's taken has to be considered against higher employment because we're trending the wrong way simply because of oil and gas prices," he said to reporters.

Alberta requires large industrial companies to reduce their energy intensity by 12 per cent a year. Companies that miss the target have to pay $15 a tonne into a technology fund.

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